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Federal Waterfowl Production Areas (long)

 
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Bearchaser
Geocacher


Joined: 10 Feb 2004

Posts: 7

PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 9:37 am    Post subject: Federal Waterfowl Production Areas (long) Reply with quote

Hi,

I've been in contact with Steve Delehanty who is Director of the Morris Wetlands District of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. He oversees 244 Federal Waterfowl Production Areas (WPA's) in his district. The Morris District has a great website which has links to aerial photos and maps of all the WPA's and it lists allowed activities such as hiking, conoeing, bird watching ect.

http://midwest.fws.gov/Morris/pope.html

It didn't mention Geocaching in the prohibited section so I decided to send Steve an e-mail and ask if I could place a Geocache on one of the WPA's. Below is my e-mail and the reply I recieved from Steve.

""""
Hi,

I'm interested in finding out if Geocaching is allowed on WPA's.
Geocaching is an activity where a small box (cache)with toys or trinkets is
placed (never buried) in a location and it's GPS coordinates are logged on
a website. http://www.geocaching.com/ People then put the coordinates in their GPSr and go out and try to find the cache. Hiking, enjoying nature,
and seeing new areas are the big draws for this new activity. When the
cache is found you sign a log sheet in the box and can take or leave an
item. My kids love this part as they are always eager to see what toys are
hidden but the best thing is that they actually want to go hiking with me
now. When you get home you go to the website and log your experiences for the cache hunt you were on. This is important so the person who put the cache out and monitors it knows if it is still there or in bad shape and
needs repair or to be moved. Caches are not just left out to become junk,
they are monitored, retrieved or moved. In Western Minnesota caches don't see a lot of traffic, maybe 15 visits per year.

I have hunted the WPA's in the Glenwood area for 25 years and they are
wonderful tracts of land. I just recently started Geocaching and
immediately thought the WPA's would be wonderful places to visit. With
your permission I would like to place a new cache near the old homestead
site on the Stenerson Lake WPA. The prairie has come back beautifully
since the controlled burn and a hike in from the road would be great when
the wildflowers come out. I would be more than happy to have someone from your office assist in finding a suitable location if you wish. If for any
reason it were to cause any problems I would remove it right away. I would also post on the website the dates for the deer season and either
deactivate it or recommend no visits during that time.

Thank you,

Brett Vegoe
""""
""""
Brett,

Thank you for your kind words about WPAs and thanks for asking before
beginning your geocaching. Geocaching is not a use that we allow on WPAs in this district. A federal law directs the Fish and Wildlife Service to
manage refuges and WPAs for wildlife first and then to allow, where
appropriate, any of six specific priority public uses (hunting, fishing,
wildlife observation and photography, and environmental education and
interpretation). I am sure it is possible to observe wildlife while
enjoying your sport but that is not the main purpose of the sport. While
what you propose on Stenerson Lake WPA is probably harmless, I can envision other participants not as nature-oriented as you that could be causing harm or even breaking the law under the guise of geocaching. Also, there are many other users wanting permission to do many other things on WPAs. They also would line up to seek permission for their preferred activity. We get requests for dog trials, horseback riding, snowmobile and ATV riding, and other activities and we are forced to say no to them to both protect wildlife from disturbance and habitat damage and also to avoid competition from those other public uses that, by law, receive preferential treatment. Thanks again for your inquiry. Feel free to call me at 320-589-1001 if you want to talk about the issue.

Steve Delehanty
""""

So untill the F & W Service changes their position on the National Wildlife Refuges the WPA's look like they will be off limits too. Reading their website I actually thought we might have a chance since it seems to imply that the WPA's are open to recreational uses other than hunting.

I Sent Steve this reply this morning.

""""
Steve,

Thank you for the reply. I understand the purpose of the WPA's and know you are working to protect them. As a hunter I am very grateful that they are there for us to use. As someone who enjoys geocaching I'm disappointed that the Fish & Wildlife Service has taken this position on the activity at this time, but we do have lots of other places to use.

In time the Fish & Wildlife Service may change their stance on geocaching as many other agencies and organizations already have. The Minnesota State Parks system is going to allow geocaching this year, as have most of the county parks in Minnesota. The Nature Conservancy also allows it and has caches on their Ordway Prairie and Strandness Prairie tracts in Pope County. Hiking and viewing natural areas and wildlife really are the main reasons most people enjoy geocaching. If the policy ever changes I'll give you a call to ask again, we do try to ask permission and work with the proper authorities before placing caches.

I'd also like to say your website is great. It's probably the best government run site I've found. Being able to look at aerial photos or maps of all the WPA's is a big help when trying to find a new hunting area. Could you update it to include geochaching as a prohibited activity? It will save you time answering more questions about it.

Keep up the good work on the WPA's and add as many more as possible.

Thanks,

Brett Vegoe
""""

I'll give an update if anything changes.

Brett (Bearchaser) Vegoe
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Marsha and Silent Bob
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 6261

PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 10:00 am    Post subject: Re: Federal Waterfowl Production Areas (long) Reply with quote

Bearchaser wrote:
I'll give an update if anything changes.

Sometimes it is better to leave well enough alone... One of my most favorite caches (Farmerted's Urban Sprawl) is in a WPA Sad

Silent Bob
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towlebooth
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 26 Nov 2002

Posts: 1270

PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 10:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Before others begin the (seemingly mandatory) rant about why we're better on the land than the allowed uses, let me say that you handled the situation very well.

Thank you for opening a constructive and courteous dialog with the WPA authorities. Hopefully your correspondance will give these folks a good first impression of us and in the future they will open these area for our use.

I too am disapointed that their first answer is "no", but we've found that this can change over time. The wheels of progress turn slowly, but they do turn!

Chad
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tomslusher
Geocacher


Joined: 02 Jan 2003

Posts: 182

PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
One of my most favorite caches (Farmerted's Urban Sprawl) is in a WPA


If I remember right Urban Sprawl in in a State WPA (Wildlife Management Area), not Federal WPA and they have never said we couldn't put caches there.

tomslusher
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Marsha and Silent Bob
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 6261

PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 11:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

tomslusher wrote:
If I remember right Urban Sprawl in in a State WPA (Wildlife Management Area), not Federal WPA and they have never said we couldn't put caches there.

Ahh. My bad. Thanks for the info.

Silent Bob
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tomslusher
Geocacher


Joined: 02 Jan 2003

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 11:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Opps, I meant a State WMA (Wildlife Management Area) not a Federal WPA (Waterfowl Protection Area)

tomslusher
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Marsha and Silent Bob
Past MnGCA President


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Posts: 6261

PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 11:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

tomslusher wrote:
(Waterfowl Protection Area)

I am almost 100% positive that it was in a Waterfowl Production/Protection Area... Whether or not that is a State/Federal deal I don't know. I did the cache back in August or September so I might be wrong.

Perhaps Farmerted could shed light on this for us.

Silent Bob
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tomslusher
Geocacher


Joined: 02 Jan 2003

Posts: 182

PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Map of US Fish & Wildlife, Minneosta Region

This is what I come up with. Nothing in the Lakeville area.

tomslusher
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Bearchaser
Geocacher


Joined: 10 Feb 2004

Posts: 7

PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 12:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here are some WPA's listed on the Minnesota Valley Wildlife Refuge site. I think Urban Sprawl cache is in Soberg WPA.

http://midwest.fws.gov/MinnesotaValley/wpas.html

Brett


Last edited by Bearchaser on Thu Feb 12, 2004 12:51 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Marsha and Silent Bob
Past MnGCA President


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 12:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bearchaser wrote:
I think Urban Sprawl is in Soberg WPA.

Yeah it seems like you're right...

http://www.lazylightning.org/imagery/image2.cgi?lat=44+37.957+&lon=093+19.389

Doesn't show anything on the aerial/topos but when I compared the aerial PDF of their page it seems similar.

Silent Bob
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tomslusher
Geocacher


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 12:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is a WMA in the area, but it doesn't seem quite right. so maybe it is a WPA, or a WMT or a RFR, or a GDRTY, or FSGTwS, WETNSDFOIW
'W;le[ow.....AAARRRGGGG!!!!!!!!

sorry,

tomslusher
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Farmerted
Geocacher


Joined: 19 Dec 2002

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 6:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It appears Urban sprawl is in the Federal WPA I will remove it soon Thanks for the kind words it was one of my favorites it I have a few ideas on relocating it that will make it even better.
Urban Sprawl was was inspired by Haycreek Hideway http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?guid=48e1b17f-5265-4681-a371-990678f87b43
Check it out if you haven't already
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Bearchaser
Geocacher


Joined: 10 Feb 2004

Posts: 7

PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2004 7:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Farmerted,

Maybe you should leave it until your asked to remove it. Just make sure that no damage to the area occurs. It could work for us to be able to show a cache doesn't cause damage to a WPA. On the other hand, they could use it against us to say we don't follow our own rules. Tough call.
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Marsha and Silent Bob
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2004 7:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bearchaser wrote:
Maybe you should leave it until your asked to remove it. Just make sure that no damage to the area occurs. It could work for us to be able to show a cache doesn't cause damage to a WPA. On the other hand, they could use it against us to say we don't follow our own rules. Tough call.

FT is one of the better hiders out there and he is VERY good at keeping them where they are allowed to be (he removed a cache off a college campus and a multi out of a NWR as soon as he learned they were not permitted there).

Urban Sprawl (probably because of the terrain, brush, and distance: about a mile of actual walking) doesn't get much traffic. It's not exactly a difficult find it's just a long walk and a painful hike in shorts Wink

Keep up the good work FT, it's much appreciated.

Silent Bob
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