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Proposed MNDNR State Park Geocaching Policy
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ice tres
Geocacher


Joined: 16 Aug 2005

Posts: 97

PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2005 11:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MNGCA may want to spit this thread into a policy discussion (traditional cache in state parks wording etc.) and a tactics discussion (how best to get new policy implemented) if interest warrants.

Ice Tres.
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Marsha and Silent Bob
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 6261

PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2005 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ice tres wrote:
MNGCA may want to spit this thread into a policy discussion (traditional cache in state parks wording etc.) and a tactics discussion (how best to get new policy implemented) if interest warrants.

Right now, there isn't a need for that course of action but if need be it will happen. Thanks for the suggestion.
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pto
Geocacher


Joined: 18 Mar 2004

Posts: 136

PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2005 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ice tres

When does the 1 year period expire?

Good points, but falling on deaf ears-
When is that election finished?
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ice tres
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Joined: 16 Aug 2005

Posts: 97

PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2005 12:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anytime during the year is fine to do our lobbying, and I agree we should get ourselves all on one page before doing anything as a group or individually, BUT I've read on this board that we should wait unitl the year has passed, and -- if MnDNR does not liberalize their policy at that time -- THEN lobby etc etc and all I'm saying is that it will be too late after the year has passed to do these things as the proposed regulations will have been finalized. That's all I'm saying. Yes we have a yaer and should be prudent and reasoned during that year. But NO we don't have any time AFTER the year to try to change this proposed policy.

Ice Tres
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Marsha and Silent Bob
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 6261

PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2005 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

pto wrote:
Good points, but falling on deaf ears- When is that election finished?

Please become a registered MnGCA member, agree to the bylaws, and agree that you are over 18 years of age and you will be able to nominate, vote, and even run for office in 2007. If you aren't willing to be an active voting member in the association please do not bash those that have put their time and name on the line to attempt to make geocaching better in Minnesota.

If you want to register to become elligible for nominations and voting for the 2007 Board please update your information here: http://www.mngca.org/register.php (you must be logged in first).
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ice tres
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Joined: 16 Aug 2005

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2005 12:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The public comment period ends approximately September 1, 2006 but the wording is not clear and MnGCA (ideally) should request clarification so we don't miss it. A year seems like a long time, but will go by quickly because there's lots to do and places we could easily get bogged down. Ideally, MnGCA should set out a time line for policy formulation and lobbying efforts in support of that policy. It would be hard for individuals to do this w/o MnGCA.

I honestly don't know if this is high priority with MnGCA or its members or what other projects are on its plate. I happen to think it is very important to be able to cache in state parks, but maybe MnGCA has set other priorities. I just don't know. I just started reading these boards a little while ago.

Ice Tres
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Marsha and Silent Bob
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 6261

PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2005 12:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ice tres wrote:
But NO we don't have any time AFTER the year to try to change this proposed policy.

Quote:
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.

My question is are they then just lying that they will allow members of the geocaching community to conduct the review after one year and that subsequent reviews will occur as needed? Please correct me if I'm wrong, but that's what it sounds like you are saying. To me, it appears that the MNDNR is allowing geocachers to review the current policy after "approximately one year" along w/other members of their staff and interested parties and then make recommendations.
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ice tres
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2005 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good question, SB. They aren't exactly lying. Once a regulation is finalized, it can be changed and is supposed to be reviewed periodically as conditions change. And some regulations do change. And if the regulation, as written, becomes final, we should try to change it. But we'd have to work very hard to show that conditions have changed such that they should open the policy up for review. We would have to struggle mightiliy just to have what we are given now--a period of public comment.

During this 1-year period, the MnDNR is REQUIRED to respond to the comments received. If they ignore them, then we can challenge the regulations as arbitrary on appeal within the MnDNR and in court. Willing on appeal will depend ONLY on what comments the MnDNR has received. We wouldn't be able to add anything to the record after the public comment period as expired. After the year, a simple "no change in conditions" letter would be sufficient to deny us any input at all. And they could, without our ability to challenge them, interpret "periodically" in a way we may not want. Like every 10 years, for example.

These guys are not evil, they are just doing their jobs. They have taken the hiding of traditional caches in state parks as something that unduly increases the artificiality of the park (from their virtual cache policy verbiage) and as their rationalle have used the regulation regarding abandoned private property as a basis for this ban on traditional caches. Their position makes some sense, although I disagree with it. (That's why, in my suggested first draft policy, I threw in stuff about no park visitor seeing the cache, cache must be moved every year, etc.)

Ice Tres
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pto
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Joined: 18 Mar 2004

Posts: 136

PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2005 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How did I bash anyone?

I asked when the election was over simply because with the election will come a new board - which in turn has to decide how to deal with this.

Maybe come 2007, Ill re-consider joining this organization - but for now I'll keep my private info private.
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ice tres
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Joined: 16 Aug 2005

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2005 12:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To clarify, the pubic comment period will follow the one-year review, and THEN the regulations will be finalized but our best shot at changing the regulations is during the review period, not after the regulations have been more set in stone. We should bring everything to the review, not wait until the official public comment period.

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Marsha and Silent Bob
Past MnGCA President


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2005 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ice tres wrote:
We should bring everything to the review, not wait until the official public comment period.

Thanks for the clarification. We are on the same page -- we just didn't know it.
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ice tres
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2005 1:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The thing is, the public comment period is often as short as 60 days, so we have to present everything at the review or we won't put our best effort forward. We should treat the review as our final shot, because it's our best shot.

What we want to request, I suspect, is another year trial but of our traditional cache policy this time and another review meeting in Sept. 2007.

But we have to impress them at the 2006 review that there is wide support for our traditional cache proposal, that other states have had no problems, and it can be done without subjecting other park visitors to the artiface of the cache itself.

Ice Tres
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Pear Head
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 04 Apr 2004

Posts: 5700

PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2005 5:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm still trying to digest all of this.

In the mean time, I have a question. Does the current policy that they have released ban traditional caches? I read in the policy where it refers to (apparently) existing policy that bans them, but I don't see where the current policy bans them. Maybe I'm missing it?
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ice tres
Geocacher


Joined: 16 Aug 2005

Posts: 97

PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2005 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, look under the definition of Traditonal Cache, section 1.5. They just dismiss Traditional caches out of hand. This is why I'm pretty sure it's going to be a hard sell and we have to do all we can. Or, Pear Head, do you mean that you are wondering why they are saying in section 1.5 that Traditional Caches are banned? I think this ban probably first appeared here in section 1.5 and was banned earlier simply because the caches have been deemed "abandoned property" and banned as such. I could be wrong, but if Traditional Caches were banned by prior regulation or rule, I would think that rule or reg would be cited at the end where they list the relevant rules and regs.

If you read the entirely of that Virtual Cache proposed regulation, it seems that their main objection is that a traditional cache will detract from the "naturalness" of the park. Well, that's what I get out of it, anyways. What do you guys think their main objection to traditional caches is?

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Pear Head
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2005 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ice tres wrote:
Yes, look under the definition of Traditonal Cache, section 1.5. They just dismiss Traditional caches out of hand.


Quote:
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.


This doesn't specify that THESE rules prevent them from being placed. I don't understand how, because traditional caches are defined, makes them illegal.

My interpretation is that the definitions define WHAT a traditional cache is, and refer to existing rules that prohibit traditional caches. 2.1b covers this again:

Quote:
2.1 Virtual Caches Only Allowed in 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.


Furthermore, section 1.1 states that this policy only affects virtuals and earthcaches:

Quote:
1.1 Purpose
To provide a framework for the management of geocaching (earth or virtual only) in Minnesota State Parks


My point here is that we're not missing any boat on comments for traditional caches - the policy doesn't deal with them, only reaffirms existing policy. Or am I missing something?

On top of that, it seems like gc.com is never going to approve virtuals anymore as there is a new website that is going to take over that function. I believe that will apply to earthcaches as well although I'm not sure. Point being that the policy that the MNDNR has issued is already on it's way to being out of date.

ice tres wrote:
If you read the entirely of that Virtual Cache proposed regulation, it seems that their main objection is that a traditional cache will detract from the "naturalness" of the park. Well, that's what I get out of it, anyways. What do you think their main objection to traditional caches is?


I don't disagree that that could be their main objection. Personally I think that part of their policy is based upon the fact that they have had limited contact with geocachers. 'Might as well ban something that could be potentially hazardous to us, especially if no one complains about us banning it.'

We've taken a reactive approach to MNDNR policy up until now. There has been some contact, but as I understand that contact it's been sporatic and not organized very much (not knocking those that made the contact - it just wasn't a MnGCA priority at the time). We're still in the reactive mode, but are preparing to get a little more vocal on the subject.
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