Thursday, February 12, 2015

Arizona Trust Land and Geocaches - Gillespie Middle School - Illinois 7-3A State Basketball Champs

Breaking news:  Gerry went to Benld High School and I went to Gillespie High School.  A few years after we graduated the two schools merged and the combined middle school mascot adopted Benld's name of the Indians.

The Gillespie Middle school won the Illinois 7-3A basketball championship over Teutopolis in overtime by the score of 38-33 this evening.  They trailed early in the game and were down 13-21 at halftime and then caught fire and won the game.  They finished the season with a 26-2 record.  Congratulations to the team.

GMS Indians waiting for their medals.

NOTE:  If you aren't interested in geocaching or the Arizona Land Trust, then you might want to stop reading today's entry.  

As many of you know Gerry and I are geocachers and try and get out as often as possible.  My two knee replacements last year slowed us down on geocaching and we were looking forward to finding some this season in Tucson.  There were about 500 caches within 5 miles of the RV park and they were on our radar.

Imagine my surprise when I went to download them and the area was free of geocaches.  At first I thought I was having system problems or the geocache site was having problems.  Nope, not to be as they were all removed.  I didn't know why, but do know that the Arizona Trust Land managers have a lot of rules and a permit is needed to even walk on the land.  As you will see in the following letter, the amount of land mass in the Trust is huge.

One of the geocachers telephoned the Trust office and was sent the following letter.  I've omitted his name due to privacy concerns.

The Department manages approximately 9.2 million acres of State owned Trust land within Arizona. This land was granted to the State of Arizona under the provisions of the federal Arizona New Mexico Enabling Act that provided for Arizona’s statehood in 1912. This land is held in Trust and managed to earn revenues for the State’s public schools (K-12) and 13 other public institutions (see attached).
The Trust’s beneficiaries receive revenue from leasing, selling or using the State’s Trust land and its resources. Pursuant to law, all uses of Trust land must benefit the Trust. The Trust land is not managed for the general public’s use. While public use of the Trust land is not prohibited, use is regulated to comply with the State’s Enabling Act, the Arizona Constitution and state law to protect the land, its resources and to ensure compensation to the beneficiaries.

All recreational uses of State land, other than hunting or fishing with a valid hunting or fishing license must be authorized by a recreational use permit issued by the Department.

A Trust land Recreational Use Permit does not permit target shooting, paintball, airsoft, recreational flying, vehicular rock hopping, geocaching, sand railing, fireworks, or congregating in groups larger than 19 people. Visiting prehistoric and historic cultural or archaeological sites, metal detecting, collecting or removing natural products (rocks, stone, soil, fossils, mineral specimens, cacti, saguaro or cholla skeletons, plants (live or dead), or firewood for home use, are all prohibited. A Recreational Use Permit does not authorize use of non-state lands such as military, federal, tribal, or private lands. Recreational users are asked to take no natural products from the Trust land and leave no foreign objects. Activities involving disturbing the soil/cultural resources and traveling off existing trails and roads are prohibited.

To be clear, per federal and state law, all uses of Trust land must be permitted and must benefit the Trust; a fact that distinguishes Trust land from public land, such as state or county parks or national forests. Parks, National Forests, and lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management are public lands and are managed as such. State Trust lands are not public lands.

May we refer you to those lands where geocaching is permitted, i.e. land administered by the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Arizona State Parks.

We appreciate your concerns and hope this answers your questions.


John Schneeman, AICP, CFM
Assistant Director
Natural Resources Division
Arizona State Land Department
1616 West Adams
Phoenix, Arizona 85007  

End quote "

To give you an idea as to the size of these holdings converted to sq miles they are 14,375 sq miles.  The state of Maryland covers 12,405 sq miles.

It is estimated that there were between 4,500 & 9,000 caches on the Trust land.  Nobody can agree on the true count but there have been a significant reduction in geocaches in Arizona as a result of the enforcement of the laws.  Many caches have been relocated but many others abandoned.

Most people don't realize how popular geocaching is and how far people travel to look for them.  The French & Germans schedule vacations to travel to the US Southwest to geocache and Arizona is a popular destination for them.  It will be interesting to see how this ruling changes the number of visitors to Arizona in the future.  

The vast majority of the caches aren't on Trust land, so there are still thousands of them out there waiting to be discovered.  Gerry and I found 5 of them yesterday in downtown Tucson.  The rectangles on the map below are geocaches and the smiley faces are caches we've found.  It looks like we have our work cut out for us to fill in more smiley faces.

We have been taking it easy the past few days and Gerry has been working on making her Valentine cards to be sent out.  I've been completing some small chores around the RV and just enjoying the nice weather we've had the past week or so.


  1. That's sad that you lost so many geocaches but maybe they really are trying to save the land. Looking at your map I think you have enough to keep you busy for a few days. We need more smiles on there.

  2. What a bummer of a letter! 😳.
    Loved my Valentines Day card!! Thank you!