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Proposed MNDNR State Park Geocaching Policy
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Pear Head
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 04 Apr 2004

Posts: 5692

PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2005 5:50 pm    Post subject: formation of hypothetical MNDNR policy Reply with quote

Ok. Let's try and come up with something that will work for all the parties involved.

First, we need to understand that the DNR has needs about a new policy as do we.

I'll start by cut and pasting the Duluth Parks and Rec policy. This policy, while still fairly new, seems to be working well for all parties involved so far (as I haven't heard any complaints yet - nor have I heard any compliments regarding it).

Quote:
Proposed MNDNR State Park Geocaching Policy

Geocaching is a recreational pursuit that brings technology and nature together. A geocache is normally a hidden container containing trade items and a logbook. The location of the geocache is recorded with a Global Positioning System receiver and is posted online. Other individuals then try to find the geocache, sign its logbook, trade an item, and later record their find online.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) welcomes responsible geocaching and has developed the following policy in the interest of all park users and geocachers.

When hiding, finding, and trading items in a geocache you are subject to all applicable federal, state, and local laws including park hours.
Hiding or finding a geocache should never alter, damage, or otherwise negatively impact the parks, trails, or surrounding areas. Geocaching should never interfere with or detract from other park visitors' experiences. New geocaches should not be placed within 1/10th of a mile (528 feet) of existing geocaches.

Geocaching is not allowed in sanctuaries, campgrounds, zoos, environmental preservation areas, and places that are ecologically sensitive. The MNDNR reserves the right to disallow geocaching in any area of any park.

A geocache hider must notify the State Park that the geocache is located in with the geocache name, coordinates, URL of geocache listing, and valid contact information when a geocache is hidden. The hider is responsible for maintaining the quality of the geocache and it must be of value to other geocachers. The hider is also responsible for the upkeep of relevant information about the park and area the geocache is located in. The MNDNR will notify the hider if there are any seasonal restrictions or relevant policy changes concerning the park or geocache area.


Now, I am asking for comments regarding this. This is the Duluth policy word for word. I simply changed the areas that referred to "Duluth" to MNDNR and deleted the last paragraph regarding contact information for the Duluth Parks and Rec department.

One of my first questions (but please don't limit your responses to this) is do we want to start with a proposed policy limited to State Parks alone, or do we want to propose a policy encompassing all DNR lands? It seems to me that the State Parks are a big enough piece to chew off at one time as the other DNR lands have other unique interests that the DNR is interested in.

My thoughts are that we not only come up with a hypothetical policy, but create a policy that we can propose to the DNR when the time comes (I don't know if this is Aaron's exact idea or not, but it's what I would suggest). Then we can go to them with "This is what we suggest. Will this work? What changes would you require of the policy?". This is a two way street - we're not in a position to demand much of anything.

Many seem to have comments on how they don't like the current policy - let's turn it around to what we can do on a new policy, and then let the board present it to the DNR.

- Matt
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dmnrec
Geocacher


Joined: 17 Mar 2005

Posts: 538

PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2005 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As some of you may or may not know, I am the contact for the City of Duluth for our parks and recreation department geocaching policy.

Since implementing the policy, I have received several emails/phone calls from geocachers re: placement. It has been very easy on my part to work with other cachers and I have not had any "issues". I also found it very easy to work with the current MNGCA board when developing the policy.

I believe that a similar policy would work for the state parks. The only thing maybe would be to define some sort of distance from the campgrounds located within the state parks.

I think state parks would be enough to work with for now.
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Pear Head
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 04 Apr 2004

Posts: 5692

PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2005 7:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Erin! I'm curious how many caches (including your own) have been placed in Duluth parks since the policy has been enacted?

Also, have you had any feedback from your superiors, positive or negative, regarding cache placement and caching in general?
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dmnrec
Geocacher


Joined: 17 Mar 2005

Posts: 538

PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2005 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When counting mine, I would include the one that got stolen before it was found..so about 10, 7 on parks lands..the others on other city land where I assisted cachers with getting permission from different city departments (helps to be on the City's Wellness Commitee - they understand my obsession and know quite a bit about caching).
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Paklid
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 09 May 2004

Posts: 656

PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2005 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Developing a "straw man" policy that would address the concerns of both parties seems like a great idea. We could do our best to try to identify what issues the DNR has and accomodate as much as possible while the DNR would be able to see what type of policy seems fair to us.

That leaves the issue of trying to divine just what issues are really bugging the DNR about physical caching. I have been told it's not about concern over environmental damage, rather it's a rule that forbids the abandonment of personal property on State Park land. I don't know what the real truth is, because this rule seems pretty easy to accomodate.

It seems that if prior to putting the finishing touches on our policy there was a personal contact with DNR management to ASK what concerns there are, when we do pitch the "straw man" policy they'll see that we've done our best to address their issues while forging something we like as well. Without that preparatory dialog, whether we wanted to or not, the meeting to discuss our version of a policy would likely be seen as confrontational. Human nature when faced with a confrontation is to dig in - and that wouldn't help anything.
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Pear Head
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 04 Apr 2004

Posts: 5692

PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2005 8:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paklid wrote:
That leaves the issue of trying to divine just what issues are really bugging the DNR about physical caching. I have been told it's not about concern over environmental damage, rather it's a rule that forbids the abandonment of personal property on State Park land. I don't know what the real truth is, because this rule seems pretty easy to accomodate.


First off, do we have a way to find out the truth? I don't know how far MnGCA's conversations have gone with the MNDNR, nor how deep our contacts are ('official MnGCA' and membership).

Even if the DNR is indicating verbally that environmental damage isn't a concern, I would have to guess that they need to show concern in policy. There isn't any reason that we can't be environmentally friendly and come up with a reasonable policy anyway. Our goal should be to be environmentally friendly.

Other concerns I've heard deal with the personal property issue you outlined above as well as liability.

Paklid wrote:
It seems that if prior to putting the finishing touches on our policy there was a personal contact with DNR management to ASK what concerns there are, when we do pitch the "straw man" policy they'll see that we've done our best to address their issues while forging something we like as well.


Agreed. I don't believe the first step would be to whip out our suggested policy. I think if we had something in the works already, and then after meeting with the DNR and discussing their concerns, the suggested policy could be brought into the conversation. This certainly isn't a 'first step'.
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MNMizzou
Geocacher


Joined: 23 Feb 2005

Posts: 707

PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2005 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In terms of "research" to take to the state DNR I would suggest looking at similar states and their policies. Take for example Wisconsin, Colorado, Utah, maybe Montana or Arizona. States that share similar values when it comes to their wildlife/parks/ outdoor philosophies and management. What if any regulations do they have? Maybe find a park that has several caches in it and try to contact that ranger to see what good or bad they have seen with the placement of those caches. I think i f you can point to states that allow caching that have similar goals and values as Minnesota they may see that they are being a little extremist in their approach.
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15Tango
Past MnGCA Chair


Joined: 17 Dec 2002

Posts: 841

PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2005 8:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I was co-chair, I'd email the DNR about once a month, and get a response that basically read that they were working on a policy, and they'd get back to me--what has been done now is far ahead of what was accomplished on the time I was on the board. I'd like to wish anyone luck who is willing to try to work out a mutually benificial geocaching policy with the Minnesota DNR. I like the proposed policy that Pear Head has come up with, with one exception--one of the main sticking points seems to be "abandoned private property"--we can reword the proposed policy is to make it valid for virtual caches, or inform the DNR that a physical cache is not "abandoned private property"--it is property that is still maintained, and not abandoned, and it is able to be accessed through a publicly available site, gc.com, and thus is longer abandoned nor private. I also like the idea of sharing cache policies pertaining to state parks of other states with the Minnesota DNR.
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Pear Head
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 04 Apr 2004

Posts: 5692

PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2005 3:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MNMizzou wrote:
In terms of "research" to take to the state DNR I would suggest looking at similar states and their policies. Take for example Wisconsin, Colorado, Utah, maybe Montana or Arizona. States that share similar values when it comes to their wildlife/parks/ outdoor philosophies and management. What if any regulations do they have?


I will attempt to do some research on this in the near future and post what I find here. If others have stumbled across DNR policies from other states, please post them on this thread. The more information we come up with, good or bad, the better we'll be able to help to formulate a proposed policy.

MNMizzou wrote:
Maybe find a park that has several caches in it and try to contact that ranger to see what good or bad they have seen with the placement of those caches. I think i f you can point to states that allow caching that have similar goals and values as Minnesota they may see that they are being a little extremist in their approach.


Pattison and Amnicon, both in Wisconsin near Duluth/Superior, have caches in them. I will attempt to contact the cache owners and park managers to get feedback.

Again, I would encourage others to do the same, and post your results, good and bad, here.

15Tango wrote:
one of the main sticking points seems to be "abandoned private property"--we can reword the proposed policy is to make it valid for virtual caches, or inform the DNR that a physical cache is not "abandoned private property"--it is property that is still maintained, and not abandoned, and it is able to be accessed through a publicly available site, gc.com, and thus is longer abandoned nor private.


I'm having a hard time following what you wrote there.

My thought (and maybe I'm wrong in this line of thinking) is that a physical cache is currently considered to be abandonded property. By developing a policy to address physical caches, we move it from the abandonded property stage to something else that is allowed. Am I missing something?

[edited to clarify that I'm looking for DNR policies from other states, not other MN DNR policies]
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WindChill
Geocacher


Joined: 02 Aug 2005

Posts: 40

PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2005 7:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MNMizzou wrote:
In terms of "research" to take to the state DNR I would suggest looking at similar states and their policies.

Pear Head wrote:

If others have stumbled across DNR policies from other states, please post them on this thread.

Pear Head wrote:

[edited to clarify that I'm looking for DNR policies from other states, not other MN DNR policies]


Have you looked at GeocachingPolicy.com?
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King Boreas
Geocacher


Joined: 16 Dec 2002

Posts: 2438

PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2005 5:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Virtual caches will no longer be approved on Jeremy's site.
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Early Starts
Geocacher


Joined: 07 Jul 2004

Posts: 29

PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2005 8:17 am    Post subject: "abandoned private property"-- Reply with quote

I think we should work at getting traditional caches approved. If the main sticking point is the "abandoned private property" - what if mngca agreed to facilitate cache removal in the event that the owner becomes unresponsive?


15Tango wrote:
When I was co-chair, I'd email the DNR about once a month, and get a response that basically read that they were working on a policy, and they'd get back to me--what has been done now is far ahead of what was accomplished on the time I was on the board. I'd like to wish anyone luck who is willing to try to work out a mutually benificial geocaching policy with the Minnesota DNR. I like the proposed policy that Pear Head has come up with, with one exception--one of the main sticking points seems to be "abandoned private property"--we can reword the proposed policy is to make it valid for virtual caches, or inform the DNR that a physical cache is not "abandoned private property"--it is property that is still maintained, and not abandoned, and it is able to be accessed through a publicly available site, gc.com, and thus is longer abandoned nor private. I also like the idea of sharing cache policies pertaining to state parks of other states with the Minnesota DNR.
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Marsha and Silent Bob
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 6261

PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2005 8:22 am    Post subject: Re: "abandoned private property"-- Reply with quote

Early Starts wrote:
what if mngca agreed to facilitate cache removal in the event that the owner becomes unresponsive?

"The MnGCA" should not become the cache police. MnGCA Members != MnGCA. If the members want to facilitate cache policing, fine, but the MnGCA as an association should not.
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pto
Geocacher


Joined: 18 Mar 2004

Posts: 136

PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2005 8:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Then the State could work with a bunch of indivduals on a cache-by-cache basis to facilitate cache removal. No need to get the Association involved.
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pto
Geocacher


Joined: 18 Mar 2004

Posts: 136

PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2005 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Regarding the GecachingPolicy web site above:

I did some research, and found that in WI, there are currently at least a dozen caches on WIDnr land. I believe "offically" the WiDnr has "banned" caches from those areas, yet Gc.com continues to approve them.

The caches also continue to be hunted by WI cachers all while seeming to draw little or No attention from anyone.

Why is it the MnDnr has been so hard to work with / has it out for cachers like they do? Was there something in the past that made relations between the 2 groups suffer?
Why is there such bad blood between the MnDnr and cachers?
(If one of the longer standing members wants to provide the answer, that would be great:)

IN Wisconsin, cachers hide, Gc.com lists them, cachers search them all the while WiDnr seems to have no worries. I suppose we could all cry Wolf, and notify the WiDnr as to all these "Illegal" caches, and have them removed. - but that would only serve to create problems between the 2 groups.

It seems to me they have taken a different approach in WI - Both the WI GcAssoc, and WiDnr seem to live in harmony.
Why can it be done "over there" - and not accomplished here just as easily?
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