Let me start by stating that Dig The Falls is a small, privately held, bootstrapped organization with no full time members.
What we do, we do out of love for the outdoors and nature. Like many in our communities, online as well as off, we just want to get out and enjoy a hike/run/jog/bike/paddle/etc. We also want to share as much of our passion with you, as long as the net positive outweighs the net negative of sharing the information. We are always deeply concerned with any impact we have, and have many advisors we keep in touch with to be sure we are staying true to our core principles the site was founded under: education, stewardship, safety, and Leave No Trace.
Dig The Falls has the worlds largest compilation of New York State waterfalls, but is far from complete. We have over 100 years of combined experience wrapped up in its creation and multitudes of updates and iterations, yet we still find mistakes; and many locations are continuously being updated or posted from the public.
Why is this important to understand?
Recently we received an indirect communication from an organizations that stewards a 3,000+ acre parcel that includes a couple waterfalls. The communication started: “Editorial Errors ******************** Waterfall Listing – PLEASE CORRECT.” We receive emails several times a year from individuals, organizations and even DA’s asking for revisions or full removal of locations. So we are very aware that this will happen from time to time, and we always work with the sender in order to correct the situation in a way that work best for all involved.
The message went on: “The residents of ******************** have reported to us that they have had visitors who were rude, frustrated and trying to bushwack across their private land.”
“No research was done for this listing. ******************** is not mentioned and no reference links were provided (as they were for other locations). If your team had researched this falls, they would have found the correct address… and that the police have closed access to the road and all parking at that location. Additionally, ******************** has closed the entrance at the request of the ******************** Police Department.” – During normal years, according to the organizations website, this location boasts over 60,000 visitors a year!
I can certainly understand the frustrated tone of the letter, and we absolutely empathize with the landowners because we have always sided with landowners and always will. The organization who wrote to us has full-time staff, one location to administrate, and a budget of over $1.34M ($500k is designated for payroll and payroll taxes).
While we are very happy for their success in the not for profit space, we only ask that anyone requesting changes remember that all of Dig The Falls efforts are done purely through volunteer efforts, and at a personal cost to our volunteers (the website and marketing alone is well over $2,500/yr). Our website reaches over 75,000 visits a month, which creates many forms of communication in varying complexities; along with everything that goes into administrating the waterfall challenges and keeping up with current/ongoing trail projects. This communication is handled by just two of our team members!
I’m not sure I feel Dig The Falls wants to make each listing the best it can be…
With well over 3,000 individual listings and three part-time blog editors, we have opted to create a bare bones base to start each post and go from there. This foundation provides a great jump off point to add as much or little information as we can gather. It has taken 5 years of work to format the data and add it to the website, find the proper plugins to present it the way it presently is seen, along with many hours of back-end upkeep to keep the site up to date and functional.
We have also reached out via our blog posts in the effort to bring more information to each location. You can see our blog post inviting fellow professionals to join in a collaborative effort here and here.
Why are your parking areas so far off?
In short, you would have to rewrite the geolocation algorithm, or write a brand new plugin for our site in order to offer up better “default” parking locations. We do have a warning above each map for the driving directions and ask that people take the time to be sure they are going to the correct spot.
A second point, which would have helped the above situation, is adding the business address and other information. We do have that capability, but it takes time and there are hundreds of falls associated with business addresses (most of which aren’t anywhere near the waterfalls… You see the complexity?). We also added trail head and parking GPS for most of our locations inside of each location page.
So, what can I do to help?
As an individual, we are always looking for peer review of our data. If you add significantly to the post or location, we credit you directly in that post.
As an organization or business associated with a waterfall, we welcome a collaboration that would better illustrate who you are and what you do, and also fix any incorrect information we may have posted. It is in all of our best interests to know and understand the land and waterfall stewards!
Will Dig The Falls ever be a 501c3 accredited organization?
Yes. We are in the process of growing the organization and becoming a 501c3, which will allow us to fund raise properly and apply for grants. Until we get to that point, we will continue to volunteer as much of our time as possible to cleaning up the outdoors and building trails.