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MN State Park Earthcaching and Virtualcaching Guidelines
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Marsha and Silent Bob
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 6261

PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2005 3:16 pm    Post subject: MN State Park Earthcaching and Virtualcaching Guidelines Reply with quote

Quote:
DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCE
DIVISION OF PARKS AND RECREATION
August 1, 2005


Subject: Minnesota State Park Earth-caching and Virtual-caching Guidelines

Policy Number: 32

Effective Date: September 1, 2005

Key Words: Cache, Geocaching, Earthcaching, GPS, Global Positioning, Stash Hunt, Virtual-caching, letterboxing.

____________________________________________________________________________________

1.0 INTRODUCTIONS & BACKGROUND

1.1 Purpose
To provide a framework for the management of geocaching (earth or virtual only) in Minnesota State Parks, so it is done in a manner that provides for the safety of all users, minimizes conflicts with other users and ensures the protection of the natural and cultural resources. These guidelines are intended to acknowledge the use of certain areas within the state park system as permissible for geocaching so that the park's natural and cultural resources are not being irrevocably altered, and to establish a permitting system for their use.

1.2 Policy Statement
Section 86A.05 subd. 2c of Minnesota Statutes states that outdoor recreation activities, which will not cause material disturbance to the natural features of the park or introduce undue artificiality into the natural scene may be permitted. The geocaching policy for Minnesota State Parks is based on the understanding that, 1) Geocachers have expressed an interest in pursuing this activity in state parks, 2) Certain types of geocaching fit within the statutory framework and rules of recreational activities that may be permitted, and 3) Minnesota State Parks, will be required to develop guidelines to manage this activity and its impact on park resources and other park users.

1.3 Participant Input
Minnesota State Parks will periodically seek input from interested individuals on geocaching issues, in order to identify needs of geocachers and stay current on changes in this recreational activity.

1.4 Information and Education
Park management will work with the geocaching community to develop information and education materials, which foster an environmentally friendly geocaching ethic for MN State Parks. Information kiosks or bulletin boards may be used to provide a communication link between geocachers and park management. All materials to be posted in a state park or state recreation area must be approved by park management.


1.5 Definitions
Cache
Traditional cache: A waterproof container with a logbook. The containers vary from plastic see-through types to camouflage painted surplus military ammunition cans. Rules prevent these from being placed in lands administered by the Division of Parks & Recreation.
Virtual cache: A GPS coordinate that refers to a location, such as a scenic overlook, historic site, geologic feature, etc. No logbook or container with items is used.
Earth cache: An Earthcache is a virtual cache which people can visit to learn about a unique geoscience feature or aspect of our Earth. Earthcaches include a set of educational notes and the details about where to find the location (latitude and longitude). The educational notes and features of all earthcaches are reviewed by the Geological Society of America for accuracy before being posted on the internet.

Geocaching
Geocaching is a recreational activity involving the use of GPS (Global Positioning System) to locate “caches” whether virtual (a scenic overlook) or real (a container including a logbook.). Participants use information and location coordinates they look up on the Internet (www.geocaching.com) to find the caches.

Virtual Caching Permit
A document that when completed by an individual geocacher and approved by a state park manager allows the advertisement of a virtual cache at a specific location in a state park.

GPS
The Global Positioning System is a worldwide radio-navigation system formed from a constellation of 24 satellites and their ground stations. GPS uses these "man-made stars" as reference points to calculate positions accurate to a matter of meters.

Letterboxing
Letterboxing is an activity similar to geocaching. Waterproof containers are hidden at interesting spots and clues are written to help people find them. The clues may or may not include compass directions or GPS coordinates. When box is discovered, the person uses their personal rubber stamp to mark the enclosed logbook to document that they found it.

Minnesota State Parks, MN State Parks
A division of the MN Department of Natural Resources. Lands managed by MN State Parks that are covered under this policy include: State Parks, State Recreation Areas, and State Waysides. In this document, the word Park or Parks will be used to identify these lands.

Organizational Virtual Caching Permit
A permit for organizations or institutions, designed for a short-term sponsored event or an event held for educational purposes.

Park Management
(1) MN State Parks central office and regional administrative staff. (2) Central office, regional, and area resource management staff. (3) Individual park managers and assistant managers.
2.0 GEOCACHING GUIDELINES

2.1 Virtual Caches Only Allowed in MN State Parks
a. Only virtual caches, and types of virtual caches, like earthcaches, are allowed on lands administered by MN State Parks.
b. Any form of traditional cache or letterbox is prohibited under State Park Rules (6100.1650). Any traditional cache or letterbox that is found in a state park will be removed and the owner may be subject to citation and fine.

2.2 Individual Permits for Virtual Caching
a. A person must first obtain approval and a permit for a virtual cache site on State Park lands from the park manager before the site can be advertised or posted on the web.
b. Contact information for individual parks can be found at: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/index.html or by calling (651) 296-6157 (Metro area) or (888) MINN-DNR (elsewhere).
c. Applications for virtual caching permits are available during regular business hours at a park office (or through the mail by writing the park office).
d. After review and approval, permits will be available for pick-up at the park office or sent to the applicant via U.S. Mail. Permits are valid only for the park where issued.
e. Individual virtual caching permits are valid for one year and expire one year from the date of issue.
f. Virtual caching permits may be denied or may contain restrictions to avoid environmental damage, overuse, pre-emption of virtual caching areas, or displacement of other park users.
g. No fee is charged for individual geocaching permits, however, all other regular state park fees, like vehicle permits, camping fees, etc remain in place.

2.3 Organizational Permits for Virtual Caching
a. Organizational virtual cache permits are for institutions or organizations. Entities such as schools, universities, businesses, etc that would like to sponsor events or provide instruction for geocachers in MN State Parks must first obtain an organizational virtual caching permit.
b. Organizational virtual cache permits are issued for a specific date or series of dates, and shall specify the location(s).
c. Organizational permits may be denied or may contain restrictions or limitations to avoid environmental damage, overuse, or displacement of other park users.
d. These permits may be allowed in addition to a park’s three-cache limit.
e. Organizational virtual caching permittees are required to furnish a certificate of insurance valid for the effective dates of the permit, listing the State of Minnesota as a named insured. The amount of coverage shall be at least as much as the state's limits of liability under the Minnesota tort claims act, Minn. Stat. ' 3.736. As of January 2000, these limits are $300,000 per individual and $1,000,000 per incident.

Warning and liability disclaimer. Virtual caching is a recreational activity with many participants of different physical abilities. The State of Minnesota does not rate virtual caching locations to determine their safety.

2.4 Virtual Cache Locations
a. Approval of virtual cache sites will be based on visitor safety, resource protection, educational opportunities, compatibility with other uses, aesthetics, access, and other management goals.
b. Virtual caches are not allowed in Scientific and Natural Areas, areas identified as restricted, picnic areas, play areas, golf courses, beaches, or campgrounds.
c. No more than three virtual caches will be present in a park at a given time, and no one individual may have more than one virtual cache at a particular park.
d. MN State Parks reserves the right to make a virtual cache unavailable if it is determined that overuse is a problem, a safety issue develops, or other circumstances arise which are deemed inconsistent with the mission and statutes of the MN State Park System. If such a situation arises, park staff will make every effort to coordinate these actions with the person responsible for the site.
e. Individual virtual caching permits are valid for one year and expire one year from the date of issue.
f. Access to caches will be subject to MN State Park Rules and Statutes including hours of operation, designated trail uses, maintenance standards and natural resources management activities.
g. Virtual caches will generally be located within 40 feet of designated trails, or other areas which can be accessed safely by visitors and without material harm to the natural or cultural resources of the park.
2.5 Termination Clause
If the conditions of the virtual caching permit are not met, the state may make the webpage for the virtual cache unavailable without prior notice.

3.0 POLICY CHANGES & APPLICABLE LAWS & STATUTES

3.1 Policy Changes
A review of this policy will be conducted approximately one year after enactment. A group comprised of park management, resource specialists, members of the geocaching communityand other interested individuals will conduct the review. Policy revisions will be incorporated into a draft proposal and made accessible to interested individuals for comment prior to final implementation. Subsequent reviews will occur as needed.

Comments on the policy may be submitted in writing to:

Department of Natural Resources
Minnesota State Parks
Operations Manager
500 Lafayette Rd
St Paul, MN 55155-4039

Alterations in policy, park closures to virtual caching, park specific virtual caching issues will be posted at the DNR website, www.dnr.state.mn.us and available by request from the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation.

3.2 Applicable Laws, Statutes, and Rules

6100.0525 PENALTY.
A person who violates any of parts 6100.0100 to 6100.2400 is guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to immediate removal from the state park or forest lands and to other appropriate legal action, including revocation of any permits issued.

6100.0500 DEFINITIONS. Special event.
"Special event" means an event held in a state park or on forest lands that is not normally allowed, that causes significant environmental effects, or that is likely to attract large numbers of people that could disrupt normal use of the state park or forest lands. Special events include, but are not limited to, motorcycle, snowmobile, and sports car rallies, races, or enduros; orienteering trials; group campouts that do not occur at designated group camps; dog sled races; dog trials; and commercial uses.

6100.0650 RESTRICTED AREAS.
It is unlawful to enter by any means a restricted area that has been posted to prohibit entrance. It is unlawful for a person to use a state park or forestlands facility that requires a special use permit or a fee, without first obtaining a permit or paying the fee.

6100.0900 ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION.
Subpart 1. Generally. Unless otherwise provided by law, no person in a state park or forest recreation area shall disturb, destroy, injure, damage, deface, molest, or remove any state property, including, but not limited to, wildflowers or vegetation of any kind dead or alive, ruins, wild animals, geological formations, historical or archaeological artifacts or sites, historic structures, signs, or facilities, except edible fruit, mushrooms, legally taken wild animals, and vegetation unavoidably damaged or destroyed by the ordinary recreational uses of these areas as specifically permitted by parts to. Collections for scientific and educational purposes may be made only with the written permission of the commissioner. It is unlawful to damage vegetation or damage and deface rock formations with rock-climbing equipment.

6100.1650 STORAGE AND ABANDONMENT OF PERSONAL PROPERTY.

Subpart 1. Obstruction of passage. No person shall leave standing, whether attended or unattended, a motor vehicle, trailer, boat, fish house, or other equipment or personal property so as to block, obstruct, or limit the use of a road, trail, waterway, water access, parking area, or winter sport facility.

3.2 Applicable Laws, Statutes, and Rules (continued)

Subp. 2. Abandonment. No vehicle, trailer, boat, fish house, or other equipment or personal property may be stored or abandoned in a state park or on forest lands. In state parks, overnight parking and storage of equipment is permitted only in connection with the use of campsites or fish houses, except by prior approval of the park manager. The temporary storage of personal property by a person who remains in the immediate vicinity is permitted. In state forest campgrounds and forest day use areas, overnight parking is permitted in designated parking areas.

Subp. 3. Disposal. A vehicle, trailer, boat, or other equipment or personal property left for a period longer than 14 days, except fish houses located on the ice surface of a body of water, shall be deemed abandoned and shall be transferred to the custody of the commissioner of administration for disposal in accordance with state law.

(signed copy on file with Operations Coordinator)
___________________________
Courtland Nelson - Director
Division of Parks and Recreation

August 8, 2005
___________________________
Date


edit: removed sticky
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Sad state of affairs.


Last edited by Marsha and Silent Bob on Tue Aug 09, 2005 10:15 am; edited 1 time in total
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eagleyes
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Joined: 03 Jun 2003

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2005 3:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ha you beat me to it!! I had company this afternoon- whoo-ooo and to all the Nay-sayers- it happened. Very Happy
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King Boreas
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2005 3:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

1. There will never be a virtual cache approved.

2. It's not anything which makes me run out and buy a park permit.

3. Blah !
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KC0GRN
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 22 Feb 2004

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2005 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm.. So is this effective immediately? I'm still guessing there's a few hoops to have to jump through to get virtuals permitted...

And if so, has mtn-man been informed of this? Might help to those cachers interested in going through the process of getting a virtual setup.
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JT
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 31 Jul 2003

Posts: 395

PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2005 4:15 pm    Post subject: Re: MN State Park Earthcaching and Virtualcaching Guidelines Reply with quote

Marsha and Silent Bob wrote:
Quote:
DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL

Effective Date: September 1, 2005


I will be forwarding a copy of the email we received from the DNR to Mtn-man.

-JT
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Arcticabn
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 30 Nov 2003

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2005 4:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rolling Eyes So we can Earth Cache in a State Park. How many of our State Parks have something that complies with Earth Caching Guidelines. I don't know. I guess we will see.
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eagleyes
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2005 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The policy states it goes into effect SEPTEMBER 1, 2005

I am wondering- being that there are 3 caches allowed in each park- if approved by the park management- and those caches have to be by 3 different people- should we maybe have a link somewhere on this site that shows how many caches are in what parks and who is placing them in the park so we know how many are in a park before we would apply for a specific park? (I stand corrected) Embarassed
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Last edited by eagleyes on Mon Aug 08, 2005 9:37 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Pear Head
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 04 Apr 2004

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2005 6:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

eagleyes wrote:
The policy states it goes into effect SEPTEMBER 1, 2205

2005, yes.

eagleyes wrote:
I am wondering- being that there are 3 caches allowed in ach park- if approved by the park management- and those caches have to be by 3 different people- shoudl we maybe have a link somewhere on this site that shows how many caches are in what parks and who is placing them in the park so we know how many are in a park before we would apply for a specific park?


You should be able to figure it out easy enough from the gc.com page I would think. Either look at the map of caches, or if there is already one in the park, look at the "nearby caches" to see if there are others nearby.
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eagleyes
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2005 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have decided that the one I have applied for is the only cache I am setting up in a state park. I would rather find them, I think.
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Moe the Sleaze
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2005 3:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why was my previous post deleted?

Quote:
3.2 Applicable Laws, Statutes, and Rules (continued)

Subp. 2. Abandonment. No vehicle, trailer, boat, fish house, or other equipment or personal property may be stored or abandoned in a state park or on forest lands. In state parks, overnight parking and storage of equipment is permitted only in connection with the use of campsites or fish houses, except by prior approval of the park manager. The temporary storage of personal property by a person who remains in the immediate vicinity is permitted. In state forest campgrounds and forest day use areas, overnight parking is permitted in designated parking areas.

Subp. 3. Disposal. A vehicle, trailer, boat, or other equipment or personal property left for a period longer than 14 days, except fish houses located on the ice surface of a body of water, shall be deemed abandoned and shall be transferred to the custody of the commissioner of administration for disposal in accordance with state law.


I strongly suspect that similar wording is found in the rules and regulations of just about every park board in existence, wether you can find it online or not.. There would have to be in order to keep parks from becoming dumpiing grounds/storage facilities for old cars, boats, fish houses, etc.
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Marsha and Silent Bob
Past MnGCA President


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2005 5:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Moe the Sleaze wrote:
Why was my previous post deleted?

I believe you were looking for the discussion we had going on here: http://www.mngca.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=16574#16574 -- no one deleted any post that I'm aware of.
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sui generis
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2005 6:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I still think this regulation is unenforceable fluff, and the "bone" they have thrown us is NOTHING to get excited about. All it shows is that if the State Parks had any intention of allowing regular caches, they could have done so by now. The Earth Caches the regulation mentions have not been around that long, yet a regulation has been passed with regard to them already. Instead, they have tried to regulate something we arguably already have the right to do on public land (post the coordinates of a view or a landmark) and make us fill out a permit to do it. As long as the virtual cache is at a place where the public is entitled to be, and it can be reached through publicly accessible routes, they can not prevent anyone from visiting it just because they use a GPS while they hike. Furthermore, they can not prevent a person from posting it any more than they can stop a person from posting vacation pictures, descriptions of vacations and trips, etc. To attempt to enforce this by charging someone with a misdemeanor would clearly be a free speech issue.
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King Boreas
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2005 6:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
they have tried to regulate something we arguably already have the right to do on public land (post the coordinates of a view or a landmark) and make us fill out a permit to do it. As long as the virtual cache is at a place where the public is entitled to be, and it can be reached through publicly accessible routes, they can not prevent anyone from visiting it just because they use a GPS while they hike. Furthermore, they can not prevent a person from posting it any more than they can stop a person from posting vacation pictures, descriptions of vacations and trips, etc. To attempt to enforce this by charging someone with a misdemeanor would clearly be a free speech issue.


Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy HEH Smile Smile Smile

dam government workers

I like zoejam72's idea about State Parks, and will begin using it ASAP.
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WindChill
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2005 7:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Im a little confused here. When I read the rules, I nearly laughed out loud yet most of the follow up posts make it sound like these are a good step forward.

Is this really an improvement?
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rickrich
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2005 7:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No. I agree with sui generis. Its fluff.
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