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Geocaching in Anoka County Parks - New Information
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Grey Wolf and Wild Rice
Geocacher


Joined: 31 May 2005

Posts: 384

PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2008 3:52 pm    Post subject: Geocaching in Anoka County Parks - New Information Reply with quote

Due primarily to the initial contact efforts made by Trail Zombie, we (Grey Wolf and Trail Zombie) have been able to work with Anoka County Parks Department to place ten (10) caches in the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Regional Park to give Geocaching a trial period in their parks. I have been in contact with the Anoka County MnGCA committee as this process has been coming toward is finalization.

At this time, the program is set up to have 10 caches placed only in this Park and evaluate the success of the program over a one year period. We have secured the permissions, placed the hides, and submitted the cache pages for approval to SJ. The first 5 have just been published and TZ's should be published shortly.

At the end of this trial period, the Manager of the Parks department will be making a recommendation to his advisory board about the future of Geocaching in Anoka County Parks.

Now that the caches are published, I hope that all members will take the opportunity to seek out these caches and write positive logs about their experiences in the parks. If you go in the summer........there will be millions of skeeters out there. That park is like the Everglades, so lather up with the bug dope and you won't need to mention the bugs. If you CITOed.....I hope everyone does.....write about it in your logs. I even put some CITO containers in each cache containers. The Parks Manager will have watches on all of these caches, so he will be very aware of what you write.

As always, if you trade anything, make sure it follows the GC.com guidelines and more importantly, everything is family friendly. That was the issue before that caused Geocaching to become banned in Anoka County Parks.

I am looking forward to a positive Geocaching experience for all concerned.

And finally, do not place caches or ask permission to place caches in this or any other Anoka County Park until the trial is complete and/or something different is communicated.
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merkman
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 03 Jun 2006

Posts: 2032

PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2008 8:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good work Grey Wolf, Trail Zombie, and the Anoka County Parks System. Cool

I can't say that I am behind this 100%; but then again that is what compromise is all about.

I think someone once said
Quote:
If something is not better than nothing...... then nothing is what you get.


Thanks for getting us something Grey Wolf and Trail Zombie!!!

It is good to see approved caches in Anoka County Parks.
I think it is a good start.
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EskoClimber
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 24 May 2005

Posts: 815

PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2008 10:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good job. Good work to those associated with the project.

I know this wasn't everybody's ideal solution but as the old saying goes, baby steps.
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LucidOndine
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 17 Jan 2006

Posts: 1931

PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2008 3:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The remainder of the Anoka County Caches (Trail Zombie caches) have just been published. For those who are going to precache WNC this week, these might want to find their way on to your list.
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NeverSummer
Geocacher


Joined: 20 Feb 2009

Posts: 99

PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So the thaw is upon us, and the year is nearly up. Is there any new news on the process? How is the evaluation process going to be handled with this? Will Grey Wolf and Trail Zombie be the evaluators, or will the parks department do the analysis?

As a recent transplant to MN I'm noticing that there have been many closures and limitations to placement in county and city parks--unlike anything I have seen in any other state I have cached in or hidden caches in. I am hoping that there can be some efforts to better the game and create a positive relationship with the parks departments. (I'm not implying that there have not been these efforts in the past!) IMO, this would mean working hard to preserve the game and allowing "normal" placement of caches. The more constrictive the guidelines become, the more it has choked geocaching by limiting the use of public lands which are already in use by thousands of others outside of the geocaching community.

I'm sure there has been much debate in the past that I am not aware of, so I'll put on a flame-retardant suit and await updates.

On a side note, how often are the rules for other parks departments revisited? Have others been taking part in ongoing "research" on the effects of geocaching on park lands?
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LucidOndine
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 17 Jan 2006

Posts: 1931

PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The MnGCA board places most attention on those caching policies it feels its members need the most work.

Some of these policies very obviously need attention, while others, not so much. Recently we implemented a cache policy rating system on our site. This was designed to better identify those places that do need attention and for our members to voice their concern over land use issues.

Anoka county has had a long history of not permitting geocaching and, unfortunately, seems to be the one place that has strictly forbidden it. It has been a long, slow process, but it is progress none-the-less.
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NeverSummer
Geocacher


Joined: 20 Feb 2009

Posts: 99

PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 9:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the history behind Anoka County Parks. Was there something that started the ban?

I did take a look at the rating system, yet I noticed one unfortunate piece to that. The ratings only have a few votes, and yet there are many, many geocachers in Minnesota who do not visit this website. If the MNGCA is to keep to its mission, there seems to be a need to look into either increasing visibility so others can weigh in, or take a proactive position when it comes to promoting geocaching on public lands, and other lands as permitted by groundspeak. Anything less seems like a detriment to the game.

As for promoting the game, while being mindful of our impact on natural and sensitive lands, the task is really taken to all of us to promote that from within our listings and note where paths exist and how to follow Leave No Trace ethics while geocaching. Combining that with CITO opportunities, and I saw many reluctant County and City departments more and more open to geocaching due mostly in part to the history of geocaching and promoting CITO.

Through planning annual or even monthly CITO events may be a great way to open doors with some of the more stringent County agencies. (and yes, I am willing to do what I can to promote such action and plan events, but it takes a villiage...blah blah)

IMO, I see great opportunities for clarification with some county agencies, and those could help with opening up some areas more than they already are.

<asbestos>
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Pear Head
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 04 Apr 2004

Posts: 5711

PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 10:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

NeverSummer wrote:
Thank you for the history behind Anoka County Parks. Was there something that started the ban?


It's my understanding that they found contraband in a cache container years ago, and banned them at that point. That's what we were told a number of years ago when we started negotiating with them (which went nowhere).

Quote:
I did take a look at the rating system, yet I noticed one unfortunate piece to that. The ratings only have a few votes, and yet there are many, many geocachers in Minnesota who do not visit this website. If the MNGCA is to keep to its mission, there seems to be a need to look into either increasing visibility so others can weigh in, or take a proactive position when it comes to promoting geocaching on public lands, and other lands as permitted by groundspeak. Anything less seems like a detriment to the game.


The MnGCA can only represent it's members. We try and promote the organization to cachers, but we're really only concerned with our member's views.

Quote:
As for promoting the game, while being mindful of our impact on natural and sensitive lands, the task is really taken to all of us to promote that from within our listings and note where paths exist and how to follow Leave No Trace ethics while geocaching. Combining that with CITO opportunities, and I saw many reluctant County and City departments more and more open to geocaching due mostly in part to the history of geocaching and promoting CITO.

Through planning annual or even monthly CITO events may be a great way to open doors with some of the more stringent County agencies. (and yes, I am willing to do what I can to promote such action and plan events, but it takes a villiage...blah blah)


Promoting CITO events is something that we should probably work on more. Creating a CITO event doesn't take a village though - one person can do it, and create it as an MnGCA event (work with/through the board before you do that).

Quote:
IMO, I see great opportunities for clarification with some county agencies, and those could help with opening up some areas more than they already are.


Which areas do you see that need to be clarified? Which ones need to be opened up further?
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Jonas
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 30 Nov 2005

Posts: 672

PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 10:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

NeverSummer wrote:
As a recent transplant to MN I'm noticing that there have been many closures and limitations to placement in county and city parks--unlike anything I have seen in any other state I have cached in or hidden caches in.


Minnesota as a state and it's counties and cities have a rather extensive park system, generally well run, well maintained and well funded (MN ranks as state nr 8 in terms of parks&rec expenditure/capita). As such we have experienced that many of these park systems are very active in monitoring use and activities in their parks. When they've discovered geocaching, some park systems have felt a desire to regulate this activity, in a majority of these cases this has happened without our input.

Now, there are two schools of thought here, one is to be more active in reaching out to park districts before they create their policies to work with them on more liberal geocaching policies. This approach has at time backfired in which a park system that had no plans of creating a policy created one just due to the fact that we've contacted them. The net result being going from an open policy to a restrictive. The other school of thought have been to wait until we hear from parks or when we become aware that parks are considering creating a geocaching policy. So far, we have as an organization had more success with the later.

Granted, we could do a better job working with the park systems that have existing geocaching policies. Unfortunately, we have to my knowledge never been able to convince a park system to revert from a registration system to an non-registration system, not for the lack of trying. We have had more success in opening up off-limits areas to geocaching. As you notice in this thread, we are actively working with Anoka County to open up their park system to geocaching.

Just one such item to note, our fall meeting last year was held in an Anoka County park when we worked with the park system to create temporary caches in the park.

-Jonas
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NeverSummer
Geocacher


Joined: 20 Feb 2009

Posts: 99

PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 10:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I understand the park system pride; I grew up here and lived here for 25 years. I have also witnessed caching in a state and metropolis with a valued and active park system. In most cases, there has been great success in challenging bans or restriction.

To me, if the community can not demonstrate a desire to cache responsibly, the parks will see a reason to limit our game play. If we are proactive and demonstrate our passion for the game and it's positive impact on parks everywhere, I can't imagine why that wouldn't create a case to present to departments on existing and future decisions on geocaching in city/regional/county parks or public lands.

I guess my experience since returning to MN has been rough. Getting caches approved has been very difficult, and I was very unfamiliar with any restrictions. Once I learned of those restrictions, I found many things troubling in the parks that have limits. It would seem that we get a bad rap for the behaviors already demonstrated outside of our game play, ie random trails already blazed in Rice Creek trail system, etc. But to me, and I'm sure others, we try, as part of the game, to limit our impact on cache areas and nature. We (geocachers on the whole) are nothing if not some of the most careful and passionate park system users.

I would hope that Anoka County would see the benefits of geocaching, and that we would all (MNGCA and other cachers who do not visit here) show the positive side of caching and geocachers to them. I'm sure there have been good seeds planted in their minds, and I hope the goal for MNGCA would be for open geocaching along Groundspeaks guidelines. Going in planning on an approval process only limits the game. Policing our own behavior and demonstrating our positive impact on the parks should be no different than folks bbqing packing out their mess and not leaving a lasting detrimental mark on the park space.

Does that even make sense? I'm getting tired!

Is there a way to catalog revision or inception dates for restrictive park departments? If there were, we may be able to look at what policies are oldest and may need to be updated, as the game has evolved, and MNGCA has evolved, I'm sure.
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Jonas
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 30 Nov 2005

Posts: 672

PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 9:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

NeverSummer wrote:
To me, if the community can not demonstrate a desire to cache responsibly, the parks will see a reason to limit our game play.


It is my perception that park systems that regulate/limit geocaching rarely do so due to bad experiences with geocaching, they more often do it as a means of asserting control of their property. The Eden Prairie geocaching policy comes to mind. This is what makes it very hard to make a case against cache registration policies as park systems see this is a way to control what caches enter their parks. From the park systems view it becomes an argument for or against tight park controls more so than for or against responsible geocachers.

Do you have any suggestions on what argument/s to make towards a park board on why they should no longer require caches to have to be registered with the park director before placement?

NeverSummer wrote:
Is there a way to catalog revision or inception dates for restrictive park departments? If there were, we may be able to look at what policies are oldest and may need to be updated, as the game has evolved, and MNGCA has evolved, I'm sure.


This is a very good idea. I will bring this topic up in the next board meeting to see what additional steps we can do to put an even greater focus on restrictive caching policies.

-Jonas
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NeverSummer
Geocacher


Joined: 20 Feb 2009

Posts: 99

PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 11:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jonas wrote:


Do you have any suggestions on what argument/s to make towards a park board on why they should no longer require caches to have to be registered with the park director before placement?


I'd have to get to know the policies better so I can discuss it inside and out, but right off the top of my head I see geocaching as a very well organized game with strong support from Groundspeak. There are clear rules, guidelines and strong messages of stewardship that come from the "top". Geocaching has been successful in many other areas that do not restrict placement.

I do think it will be a tough uphill battle to turn policies around and make them more geocache friendly. If they already require registration, I doubt it would be simple to have them drop that. However, it could be argued with them that they can take faith in the system created by Groundspeak, and the local cachers who have proven to be involved, active, and mindful. If they monitor their own park through the geocaching website, they would be aware of caches placed on areas under their charge. As they have staff who are maintaining the parks, they could keep an eye out to see if something becomes an issue. (ie, geotrails, obvious cache hides, damage to surroundings, etc) At that time they could remove the cache and notify the owner.

I think the spirit of geocaching has been to fly under the radar and hide something you don't want found, except through the use of your cache listing. If we leave caches in the open, in high-visibility areas, under obvious geo-stick piles, then we are really diminishing the operating level of the game. Caches should be hidden, and should not impact the daily activities of the park, public or private space. If they do, we have failed as cache hiders!

So I guess in that case, if we know a policy was administered >1 year ago, it might want to be revisited. There may have been a reason, such as a poor hide, damage to sensitive areas, etc, that caching was limited. However, I do see plenty of damage done in parks, and it is not from geocaching. I look at the trails blazed in Long Lake park, the litter and tree damage along Rice Creek Trail, and I see places where we could show our roots and help clean, maintain and replant areas that become damaged, all while demonstrating how we can be invisible to the park and public as we participate in our location-based game.

If we become part of a cleanup or maintenance solution, we can bring to light the problems that are not created by us and help keep the parks in ship shape.

I'd be more than happy to take part in or organize what I can for cleanup and maintenance events (I have worked with numerous MN local agencies in past jobs and college), but MNGCA's position may need to be evaluated. Do y'all (I'm not quite a true part of the group yet) want to make something like "the open use of public land for responsible participation in geocaching and location-based gaming" part of our motivation, or do you let sleeping (and restrictive) dogs lie?

MNGCA seems to have a great opportunity to use their contacts and experience to better the game, rather than roll over when agencies start to get restrictive. (Not saying you've taken it all lying down!)
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speedysk1
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 29 Oct 2007

Posts: 1991

PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We're taking baby steps with Anoka Co. If you look at their recent guide to the parks they are having a virtual geocaching game and are teaching a basic gps course.

http://www.anokacountyparks.com/documents/web_guide.pdf
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speedysk1
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 4:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was informed they have done this in the past, but I think it's interesting nonetheless.
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Paklid
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 09 May 2004

Posts: 656

PostPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 2:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since I tripped on this following the line of thought from another thread, I guess I'd like this brought up to date.

Were there 10 trial caches placed?
How have they been received?
Is Anoka county any closer to figuring out what they want to do? (they seem to have a million reasons to not move forward: too busy, the intern has it, the intern left, too busy.....)

With Dakota county now having their hand forced into coming up with some sort of statement regarding geocaching, it's possible that Anoka might follow Dakota's lead - especially given Anoka's demonstrated lack of ability to push an item on the "to do" list over to the "did it" list. That may make any work the board or emissaries do with Dakota county that much more important. Seems that the lines of communication are open there, and some sort of policy statement will be developed in the relatively near term.
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