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Everything posted by spinwebby

  1. Fantastic idea!!! Please let us know how your effort goes!
  2. We've dropped off two YJTBs in caches today in Metro Des Moines... would have been three, except we couldn't find one cache on today's hunt list. So, I have three more to drop off in the coming days. Watch for these as well as others I've sent out to Great Plains Geocaching members to drop around Iowa. Nebraskache members are taking care of dropping YJTBs around Nebraska.
  3. BINGO!! Welch you've found the trick! I didn't notice it until Jerry Keys pointed us to it. But he explained that the State provided some software that the park officials can use to get some idea of the location without actually hiking there, and it uses UTM for coords. I don't think its a big deal, but wanted your feedback. As far as the number of caches in an area, its pretty much up to the individual park managers. I kinda liked the way the one of the counties in Illinois handled it by saying "for each x number of acres, you could have one cache" with exceptions for some special protected lands that were defined on their web site. I could point Iowa that direction, too, but I don't think its necessary and it might limit those who might be more open. Otherwise, I didn't notice anything we couldn't work with. Please tell me if you see any red flags.
  4. I have just written to Ed Quinn and offered my assistance. I can provide plenty of names of Iowa naturalists and some from other states as well. We also have an article regarding best practices as well as a model policy for parks. Lets hope we can turn this into a good open communication channel and get geocaching back in Minnesota. I know the MNGEO group has been working on it for some time... I hope we can help. If anyone has contact info for any Minnesota rangers supportive of geocaching, please send that to me. If we can get a hearing with policymakers, we'll need rangers willing to help the cause.
  5. Great News!!! The following is a link to a Word document given to Iowa State Park managers as a guideline during this interim period. The message sent to me was... ============================================= Jennifer, I have attached the most current draft of Iowa DNR's proposed policy on geocaching. We will soon be deciding whether we need to add the policy to administrative rules. Until then, Iowa State Parks will be implementing this policy on an interim basis. You are welcome to distribute the attached policy with the understanding that it is being implemented on an interim basis. Also, we welcome comments on the policy at any time. If we decide to put the policy into the administrative code, you will have opportunities to submit comments during the formal public input process. Thank you for helping inform geocachers about our policy, Kevin Szcodronski, Chief Iowa State Parks ============================================== The link to the document is... http://www.gpgeocaching.com/userdocs/iowas...chingpolicy.doc If you would like to post your comments on this forum, I'd be happy to pass them along to Kevin. We have already provided our comments to this, so I'm eager to see if others see the same issues we have seen with this. Please note, that Jerry Keys from the Story County Conservation Board, a geocacher and key person in the history of this policy, is mentioned in this document. And due to his efforts to educate the naturalists about this game we love, he deserves a HUGE thanks. BTW, Happy New Year!!!
  6. The park managers have copies of the proposed policy. I'll see if I can obtain permission to pass it along now.
  7. The Iowa State Parks policy is set to be introduced to the legislature in the next session. One of the concerns of the policy is that it requires that the geocacher apply for a permit using UTM considering that the software provided to the individual park managers only uses UTM. Kind of a pain, but it appears that gc.com is now publishing that on the cache page now. Story County Conservation (Iowa) has modified their "model" policy to allow the geocacher to hide the cache before applying for the permit, which is free, but you are not allowed to post it to gc.com until its been approved. Story County can most often use satellite pictures to determine if the placement is okay with them, but they have a problem with a certain plant species that is killing everything in its path. And in one case, someone hid a cache in a big patch of that plant and they are now seeing that plant growing at a nearby cache site. So its seeds are getting tracked across the park on our shoes and causing problems for them in keeping it under control. In any case, there is often a very good reason for park officials to need to keep geocaching supervised, so please ALWAYS check with park rangers. I've been asked NOT to post the policy, in an effort to control the misinformation. Your best bet is to talk with park officials in your area and get a copy from them and ask them about their impression of the policy. And then please let me know what their reaction is to it. We will help you to explain the game and provide other park manager's names/contact info if they'd like to speak with others in their same position. When they understand our game, they are much more likely to be open to our presence in the parks. My favorite story is one from the Ozark Mountain geocachers email group where a Jefferson City, MO, park official went on a cache hunt and posted his find as a newbie. One of our long term geocachers saw the newbie's post and sent him a message asking him if he had obtained permission to hide the cache in that location and if the container was properly marked. Considering that the official was the cache owner, he did have permission, but having another geocacher, a stranger, encourage him to get permission, clinched it for him. He knew that this was a game bent on enjoying the outdoors and taking care of the parks we play in. I have more stories along those lines, but I wont take up space here for that. Trust me, its far better to make that contact and build a good relationship, than to create difficulty for those that follow. And when they post the proposed policy for Iowa parks, I'll be sure to post a link on the forums so that you can contact your legislators and let them know your concerns. Keep in mind, most of these people have no clue, so take them on a hunt, and show them. They'll get the idea real quick, when they learn how many people enjoy the parks, that may not have stopped there otherwise.
  8. spinwebby

    Dru Sjodin

    Search and rescue has been a good role for geocachers, so I also encourage anyone in that area who can help, to please contact authorities. Its a horrible tragedy and I know I'd appreciate any assistance if it were my family in need. As yet, I've not rec'd any formal training in S&R, but would like to explore the possibility of geocachers playing a larger role in S&R. Great idea! And let me know if you do volunteer and how it works out. I'd love to know if the local authorities feel that your GPS background provides any advantage in S&R.
  9. This sounds GREAT! And the timing is perfect, being right during Spring Break. I'll start hunting for lodging in the area. What do you expect the weather to be like during that time? Is it usually in the 50s and 60s? SpinWebby www.gpgeocaching.com
  10. Please hang on while we work with the Iowa DNR to finalize a policy. I represent Great Plains Geocaching, a group of geocachers in the Great Plains states, and our role has been to work with state agencies to develop fair geocaching policies for state properties. The Iowa DNR has made tremendous efforts to learn about geocaching and its effects on their lands. We have been very impressed by their (currently) proposed policy. They have asked that we NOT distribute the policy widely as yet, only to allow them time to run it by more public policy officials and gain more support. I agreed, believing that by having geocachers growl at this stage would only hurt our efforts. The best thing you can do, is to contact park officials and talk with them about geocaching. Teach them about geocaching and about the health benefits as well as the opportunities for exposing families to environmental issues. Be positive and talk it out with them. Many of the State of Iowa's Naturalists have been introduced to geocaching. And its my understanding that the experience has been effective. We'll be sure to let you know when there is a policy I can share with you. Until then, please be careful in your dealings with park officials. SpinWebby www.gpgeocaching.com
  11. GPGeocaching would be interested in developing a leader board, however the method by which Dan had to acquire the data is unacceptable. He had to "screen scrape" to get the data and in this age of web services, gc.com could provide the data easily to anyone that they approve of. Its very sad that Dan's stats are gone. We had volunteers from our group offering to help, but we understand that its hard to organize that, too. If gc.com would provide a web service of the data to us, we would be happy to provide a leaderboard for everyone. But I would hope that gc.com would do it themselves. It seems to us to be within their realm of responsibility to players. SpinWebby www.gpgeocaching.com
  12. We are definitely getting 10 Rinos to play with for the Cache Bash. And EagleSon is bringing theirs, too. I can't wait to try them out! We currently have 41 registered for the Cache Bash and will likely have lots of walk-ins, but remember, you don't get lunch included unless you register early!!! SpinWebby www.gpgeocaching.com
  13. Will you allow us to picnic with you before you go? It'd be great to see you once more, and I'm sure there are others who'd like to meet you. I'd like to catch up on your news, too. Do you have a "mini me" geocacher now or that still to come? We wish you all the best regardless! SpinWebby www.gpgeocaching.com
  14. You might want to check with the Iowa Space Grant Consortium. They have kits with 10 GPSRs that they might loan out to you. Contact me privately for the contact information. SpinWebby www.gpgeocaching.com
  15. The easiest way to get around that problem is to request your pocket queries in zipped format. Zips pass through the virus protection. Let us know if you continue to have problems. SpinWebby www.gpgeocaching.com
  16. Check this article out from www.theiowachannel.com... Navigation System Tattles On Driver To Police Driver Charged With Reckless Driving POSTED: 6:44 p.m. CDT April 7, 2003 UPDATED: 6:55 p.m. CDT April 7, 2003 DES MOINES, Iowa -- A vehicle's navigation system helped alert Des Moines police solve a weekend hit-and-run accident. Investigators said a driver hit a pole and large pine tree before police say he left the scene. Marks on the tree are close to seven feet off the ground. "As he came through, he came through this tree and somehow he managed to get clear up this high. I'm a little under six foot, so this is seven foot or better where he hit this street," Knapp Properties worker Chris Gray said. A few blocks away, police pulled over a damaged sport utility vehicle after seeing parts falling off it. A short time later, an OnStar operator called police to report that the exact same SUV had just deployed its airbags at 31st and Grand. Police said that's the site of the accident. The OnStar system automatically transmits its location to one of its operators when air bags go off and that operator calls for help. Police charged the driver with leaving the scene of an accident and reckless driving. No one was hurt in the accident.
  17. spinwebby

    Web Services

    Yep, I'm eager for that, too. I'm waiting patiently, it is probably a low priority and only provides value to those who know how to use it. If you think about it, it may cause more potential questions from those who aspire to use web services and don't know how. So its a tough call. I am converting our Great Plains Geocaching site to .NET and am trying to prepare myself for all the questions that it will generate from members. I don't get paid for this work and frankly don't have enough time to handle all the questions that might arise. All I can do is hope that there are enough other experienced .NET people to help. I can't presume to know for sure whats happening in the background of gc.com, but I feel for them while I, too, would like to use web services (and am willing to pay for it). SpinWebby www.gpgeocaching.com
  18. How about BINGO using different items in nature? HMMMM, maybe I'll do that myself, set up BINGO cards with different plants, animals, or features of the environment. I think first graders are capable of BINGO, aren't they? SpinWebby www.gpgeocaching.com
  19. I have to say, I've never experienced that problem... and I've conducted "newbie treks" for several months. I realize this thread has gotten "old", but I thought I'd still put in my 2-cents worth. I think its a fantastic idea! I know that the Big Sioux Recreation Area near Sioux Falls, SD, has done some experimenting with GPS in their park, so you might want to contact Becky Graff there. Also, please don't hesitate to post your needs on the gc.com forums, especially when it comes to asking geocachers to help out. When I conduct newbie treks, we start with about 30 minutes of instruction about geocaching and then break up to help people get coords into the attendees GPSRs. Then we head out for the hunt. Depending on how many people you have in attendance, you might want to split the group up to hunt different caches (in one case, the organizer hid 3 short distance caches and three experienced geocachers led the groups in rotation to the caches). Its great fun. Another example of geocaching in state parks is to log the location of interesting overlooks or features of the park, then produce a brochure with the coordinates and a suggested route to visit them. I believe thats what was done at Big Sioux Rec. That way, they accommodated geocachers without actually hiding traditional caches in the park. Keep this thread alive! We need this kind of information for park rangers that are interested in the educational value of geocaching in the parks. SpinWebby www.gpgeocaching.com
  20. That is specific to Iowa... The Iowa Space Grant Consortium has provided kits of 10 GPSRs to all Area Education Agencies and that probably includes the Community Colleges and those kits are available to "check-out" for educational purposes. Or you can try to purchase a kit from ISGC, but they told me that they are very backed up with requests. Send me a private message and I'll get you contact information for ISGC, if you like to try. But the ISGC is travelling the country teaching GPS skills to teachers and helping with developing activities for teachers in lots of disciplines and skill levels. Its a fantastic program that is very popular. SpinWebby www.gpgeocaching.com
  21. Yep, I'm liking this, too. Great job!!! SpinWebby www.gpgeocaching.com
  22. With regard to leaving valuables in caches for an event, at our last Cache Bash event in Iowa, we put "coupons" in the caches that people would have to redeem at registration. That way, they are only useful to registered competitors. I do like the idea of people around the world being able to compete, too. Hmmm, I'll have to think on that for our upcoming June 7th event in Omaha, Nebraska. BTW, June 7th is a good time for geocaching activities as its National Trails Day. We've got ours listed on the official NTD web site and hope that'll bring us a few extra people. Good Luck!!! SpinWebby www.gpgeocaching.com
  23. I have a contact person with the Iowa State Park's system to contact for Earth Day Events. Please contact me directly if you'd like to work with them on that. We are trying to coordinate with them so as to further establish a good relationship with state officials. We do have interest in activity in Des Moines and near Marshalltown and those "local" geocachers heading that up should have that contact information. So far, I haven't heard from anyone in CR for that, but there certainly are enough geocachers in your area to warrant that. I'll email you privately about it, too. SpinWebby www.gpgeocaching.com
  24. Check out this article listing caches along the route. We'll keep it updated as we get closer to the event. http://www.gpgeocaching.com/asp/News/news.asp?m=1&i=49 SpinWebby www.gpgeocaching.com
  25. Clarification might be needed here. The park may have been under the impression that, like other sports, a geocaching event was being planned for their park. This would mean that lots of people would converge on the same park on the same day with a higher risk to the participants. Just like biking events and hiking events, the land owner often requires insurance to be purchased by the event organizers. GPGeocaching purchased event and liability insurance for the Cache Bash last year, and will purchase the same insurance this year. Its not necessary for geocaching in general, but for events, you might be asked to do so if the number of people expected deems its necessity. Please remember that when you talk with park officials and land owners, that you make sure that they understand that geocaching is an ongoing game, its not a one- or two-day event. If you'd like me to talk with them, I'm happy to help out. In a private email message, please send me the name, phone number and email address (if possible) of land owners/managers for any parks you'd like to hide a cache. GPGeocaching cannot (and will not) take responsibility for the safety or legitimacy of any player, but we can help facilitate expansion of the game. I think I know who you talked with at that particular park, Welch, but please confirm with me, so that I can make sure I'm dealing with the same person as you. I believe we can turn this into a positive with your help and patience. I hope to assure you that geocachers are NOT being discriminated against. Its just a matter of education, I think. THX!!! SpinWebby www.gpgeocaching.com
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