{DirtFirst!}

Topic: GPS Coordinates - the question- publish them or not?

There is a running controversy over whether or not to publish GPS coordinates in magazines and on the internet. As the debate rages, both sides make valid arguments.

GPS units are great tools; we use them because they provide many benefits. However, they should be considered a luxury not a necessity.

Why? You inquire.
Because: Total dependence on a GPS system will get you into trouble some day.

How? You ask.
Because: When it fails, be it battery or some other cause you may be in trouble. If you have come to depend solely on the GPS for navigation you will be in serious trouble WHEN it fails (not IF it fails).

In our opinion, the reasons for including GPS coordinates in a story are truly rare and very limited. Many publishers currently list trailhead and other trail GPS waypoints. They no longer include waypoints for archeological and other sensitive areas. While we applaud it, it's not enough.

A major component of 4 wheelin' is navigating. It is fun and useful. Using a GPS takes that away (if your GPS functions).

If you can not locate a trailhead without using a GPS do you really think that you should leave the safety of the pavement? Search and rescue teams will probably be looking for your carcass someday.

Never-ever-ever should GPS points for any sensitive site be published.

We feel very strongly about that. Tell the adventurer about it, describe the trail and let them experience the thrill of discovery. Archeological and other such sites need protection and preservation. We should visit them but not publish the exact details of how to get to there. GPS coordinates are simply the electronic version of road signs (and we really hate signs!).

The argument about damage from vandals when GPS points are made available has some merit but most vandals don't use a GPS anyway. If someone wants to damage a site or be a vandal you can not stop them. Look at the barbed wire protecting our freeway signs (and even that doesn't work).

Let's take care of our backcountry and enjoy exploring it. Learn to use maps, a compass, dead reckoning and your common sense. After you have mastered those skills, then learn how to use a GPS.

Our position is:

We won't list GPS coordinates on our web site and wish everyone would follow suit.

See you in the backcountry!

The team at DirtFirst!

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  • GET INFORMED!

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