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Everything posted by IslandsAndOcean

  1. I'd just like to address this personally, and publicly for context. Hi, I'm a Land Manager on Geocaching.com. If you familiarize yourself with the Land Manager account program, you'll see that the importance of Groundspeak's Guidelines for game play and how we Land Managers interact with the game: No matter where you are, we expect that Groundspeak and users of the website will abide by the Fundamental guidelines--including Trespass issues, and assurances that geocachers have obtained permission from land managers/owners for their hides. If a cache comes to the attention of Land Managers which shows that the Fundamental Guidelines are not being followed, it makes us a tad more touchy and reluctant to allow geocaching on our lands. You see, it's important to put a good face forward, and calling me a "nonprofessional" or "nonspecialist" (dilettante, above) is really quite inaccurate. While you're welcome to have an opinion about me, Land Managers, or this discussion, you will want to review the Fundamental Guidelines of the game and start thinking about perceptions we Land Managers have when we see an issue come up (often repeatedly, such as trespass or permission issues). 10 years, or 10 minutes, this cache is against the Fundamental Placement Guidelines of the game, and the cache owner has been given 30 days to provide proof of permission from the land owner. I suggest that you review the Guidelines as well, and consider the facts that Land Manager and Reviewer accounts are often held by those who have been geocaching for far longer than you have been, and have a very acute awareness and understanding of the guidelines for the game.
  2. As I've said prior, I'm going to respect the original reviewer's and previous cachers' experience by no longer pursuing this. Please respect my request that we leave this alone. +1 The original reviewer of the cache in question also published caches clearly placed on USFWS land, and on Wilderness areas in the Aleutian Islands. I know mistakes are made, but sometimes a sweep of caches that are against the guidelines must be made. While this is true, it would be important to add that erik88l-r wasn't intentionally publishing caches where there would be permission issues. Land ownership can be complicated to understand in Alaska, and without the new maps we have today (especially overlays which can work with something as friendly as Google Earth) some of those caches might have been tough to know details about. As has been said before, Reviewers tend to "take cache owners at their word" when they click that button at the bottom of the cache submission form. Permission is implied, but Reviewers rely on "the boots on the ground" to report caches when there are issues.
  3. Get in contact with us up here in Homer, Alaska during the "Refuges on the Air" portion of the 100 year celebration. The callsign is KL7NWR, and we will be live starting at around 7am, AKST. Call in!
  4. Indeed, the event is this weekend, on October 5, 2013. Sorry for the typo, and for catching it! The callsign for HAM users will be KL7NWR. Call in!
  5. Hello, everyone! Come on down (up) to Homer, Alaska on Saturday, September 5 for a great celebration! The Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge is celebrating 100 years this fall. 100 years ago, some 2.7 million acres were set aside in one action by President William Howard Taft when the vast Aleutian Island chain was added to the National Wildlife Refuge system. The Aleutian Islands Reserve unit was designated to be a refuge ranging over 1,100 miles of distance, extending between Unimak (to the east) and Attu (to the west) islands. For the last 100 years, the Refuge has been a protected home for millions of seabirds, and thousands of Steller Sea Lions. Over these last hundred years, there have been many research vessels which have serviced the extensive Refuge, including the current ship, the R/V Tiglax (pronounced TEK-lah, Aleut for eagle). The 250-ton, 120-foot ship dedicated to science support on the Refuge, and puts on 15,000-20,000 nautical miles each season (from late May-early September). This is your chance to celebrate with the staff of Alaska Maritime Refuge, and meet the R/V Tiglax up close! The event includes: -"Refuges on the Air" HAM radio event: Learn about amateur radio, and contact HAM operators across the world -Tiglax open house: Walk through the ship and learn more about the work it does every year. See the wheelhouse, the engine room, and the berths that house the staff for nearly 4 months at a time! -Aleutian field camp visit: See what a field camp looks like out in the Aleutian Islands--the home for 2-6 researchers per site for the summer -Find "NeverSummer" to learn more about how to coordinate Earthcaches across the Aleutians The event runs from 1pm-4pm. Come on down!
  6. Hello, everyone! If you're a HAM operator, and geocacher, stay tuned to the event "Celebrate 100 Years!" for a callsign, and join in the fun for the annual "Refuges on the Air" event with Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. The callsign for the event will be added to the cache page as soon as we have it. Stay tuned, and be sure to say hello!
  7. Thanks for posting. But what do you mean about "clues"? Does this mean a sign or kiosk can't be used? Or, does this only mean the "physical" part, meaning a physical clue such as a stamped dogtag or the like? It's my understanding that using existing signs or kiosks on Refuge lands are ok to be used for multis or puzzle/unknowns. Can a container or sign/indicator of a "clue" or next coordinates be added to existing signs or kiosks? Good question to ask for clarification. Physical containers are discouraged in these cases. Sometimes a laminated card or the like can be added--with explicit permission--to existing signs or kiosks. Physical containers, whether containing a clue or the actual geocache, are not allowed. Again, working with the station manager and/or through the Friends organization is the best route. Physical caches, or physical container components of multis or puzzles, are not allowed. Additions to existing structures are discouraged, but are not completely out of the question if attached to existing "improved structures" when on Refuge land. It could be argued that there isn't much reason for a clue container (eg, a film container with a clue or next coordinates inside) on Refuge lands. In most cases, it is easier to use existing words, numbers or phrases on signs or kiosks to give clues for the next stage of a multi or clues to a puzzle. Interpretive signs cost a lot of money, and stapling, gluing, taping or attaching anything in any way can compromise the sign. In these cases, one should work with staff within the existing guidelines, laws and rules for geocaches on federal lands. Also, a well-written cache description can label coordinates for stages, and provide clear instructions on what to look for/find to complete the puzzle or next stage. Essentially, this means that the cache shouldn't be an "evil hide" or a "tough puzzle". To meet the missions for recreational land use, geocaches should be clear, relatively simple, and easy enough for a novice to complete. This also means that the description, hint and other ancillary information on a cache's description should aim to minimize any and all impact of biological, cultural, archaeological, historical, etc resources within these federal lands. Unintended establishment of "social trails", movement of stationary objects (rocks, downed trees, etc), and/or treading on habitat/historic resources are all reason enough to disallow geocaching on federal lands according to existing laws.
  8. Hello, everyone. We at the USFWS have been instructed by our agency that geocaches are not allowed on US National Wildlife Refuge Lands. We have also been trained that geocaches are not allowed on designated Wilderness Areas. This training on Wilderness was for all Wilderness areas including BLM, USFWS, NPS, USFS. What we have encountered is that some managers are not aware of the game of geocaching, and are therefore unfamiliar with the guidelines of the game and/or restrictions in place with their agencies. In addition, some agencies do, in fact, place the decision making ability with their managers (BLM, USFS comes to mind). However, this means that when you ask for permission you also should ask if the manager is 1) familiar with the game, and 2) familiar with any possible restrictions, bans, or forms required for placement of geocaches on their land. Don't assume that a manager knows the answer definitively. Permission for geocaching with federal agencies takes time to uncover rules and restrictions sometimes--be patient! The USFWS has worked successfully with geocachers in Friends of National Wildlife Refuges organizations, local geocaching clubs/organizations and single geocachers to place Earthcaches on Refuge lands--with explicit permission. Also, these clubs and groups (and sometimes the field station--Refuge office--itself) have worked to have a physical container and logbook at the administrative site (office). This can include containerless/non-physical multicaches and puzzles that bring you to actual Refuge lands. The key here is that physical containers or "clues" must not be on Refuge land. So, if you are interested in fostering partnerships with these agencies, I encourage you to join their "Friends of" group and get involved with their programming and partnerships. Geocaching is certainly an activity that can meet the usage opportunities of our federal lands when existing laws, rules and guidelines are followed. But, Wilderness Areas are still off limits--even if the manager knows it or not. Being a responsible geocacher involves knowing the existing guidelines and helping other geocachers learn them as well. The BLM policy may have changed, but it has changed to exclude geocaches from Wilderness land.
  9. Hello! We are working on updating our programs, and have been looking into having a GPS lending library at our visitor center. We also have gps/geocaching lessons that we teach, but our GPS units for those classes are slowly falling into disrepair. We purchased them at full retail, and wonder if we might be able to work out a bid from different companies. Does anyone have experience purchasing beginner GPS models for outreach and education programs? Who did you contact? How did you go about purchasing them from the company? What was your experience? Did you receive a discount? We are shooting for 10-30 units. We inquired with Garmin, but have not heard anything back. Thanks for any help! -I&O
  10. Thank you for posting this clearly, and with citations. The other standpoint is that, when an item is left--intentionally or unintentionally--on lands, it can send a message to others that it might be ok to follow suit. At the USFWS, we weigh every option and outcome before even placing seemingly simple items such as bird feeders, bird houses, etc. We don't want folks to just head out and place items on Refuges or around Administrative grounds simply because they saw it previously. We are very deliberate with the land management decisions we make on a day-to-day basis.
  11. Oh, for cryin' out loud! Take me up on my challenge or stop this futile arguing! All I'm asking for is a link or for you to copy and paste the rule you are referring too. Sigh... Hello. As a Land Manager, I can assure you that we do not allow geocaches that alter the environment in which they are placed. This means no nails, carriage bolts, eye loops, etc should be put in a tree, bush or rock. We also require that no geocaches be placed in the ground. Geocaches are also reviewed on a case-by-case basis for permissions and location. We do not want caches disturbing sensitive natural areas, animal or plant species in the hide or hunt portion of geocaching. I was introduced to this Land Management process with input from the local Reviewer and Groundspeak. I also handle each cache submission in regards to specific rules, regulations, and laws that affect the lands we manage. I can assure you, at least for my jurisdiction, that the guidelines provided by Groundspeak are broad enough for interpretation, while being specific enough to address Land Manager concerns. Placing nails, as you have mentioned, in a tree to assist in the placement of a geocache is not allowed in our case. As I can tell from the input of others, and my knowledge of the game of geocaching elsewhere, many Reviewers will not allow those types of caches without specific, written, explicit permissions from authorized managers.
  12. Note the article posted by jellis. It is clearly stated in that fws.gov news statement that containers can not be left on Refuge lands. Earthcaches, and physical containers at administrative sites are the workarounds for geocaching on USFWS National Wildlife Refuges.
  13. No geocaches are allowed on NWR lands, period. If you have come across one, you should log a Need Archived, based on the USFWS statement from 2003. The only reason a geocache would be on Refuge land is 1) if someone from the USFWS or NWR was consulted and didn't know the overarching rules from the National office 2) someone just placed the cache and claimed to the unfamiliar Reviewer that permissions were granted (via checkbox or possibly more "explicit" claims) 3) the Reviewer was unaware of Refuge boundaries when it was submitted for review (many maps were not yet available to Reviewers from Refuges until recent years) 4) the Reviewer was not the normal Reviewer for that area in which the cache was published 5) if that Refuge has expanded since publication. In any case, it is best that if you are aware of a geocache that is within a NWR, it must be removed and the listing archived. If one doesn't report it, there could be complications or damaged relationships for future cooperation. This isn't unlike restrictions on schools, airports, railroads and wilderness. Some folks undoubtedly think all areas should be open to geocaching, but that is, unfortunately, not the reality we all live in. Interesting. Thank you. But it appears to me that several people have gotten permission from their local managers. In my observations over the years, this is quite common in the levels of bureaucracy people have had to deal with over Geocache placements. One person says yes, without knowing another (and often higher authority) has said no. Anywho, my local NWR is in compliance. It had one cache, which I found in about 2003. It was placed in 2002, and archived in 2004 or 2005, because of the no caches rule. There's nothing on the map there now. Glad to hear your local NWR is all in order. A search on www.fws.gov of "geocaching" will bring up a number of Refuges that are participating in a Multi- or Mystery-cache which would involve visiting the Refuge, but finding the cache at an Administrative site (their office). Each Refuge that has a "geocaching" activity at their site clearly states that there are no circumstances in which a container should be placed on Refuge lands. Again, if you live near a Wildlife Refuge and know that there is a geocache there, please post a note for the Reviewer to have the cache archived, and remove the container from the area. It is likely that the circumstances listed above are why the geocache is there in the first place, and negligence or "being unaware of the rules" are not valid excuses to keep a cache on Refuge lands. Please help keep Geocaching in a good light with the USFWS, so that the continued partnerships and possible expansion of the game can take place on good terms. The better we all do at self-policing the "no physical container" policy of the USFWS Refuge system, the better it will look when we continue to meet with TPTB to possibly allow geocaching in the future.
  14. I can say that physical geocaches are not allowed on Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge lands. Much of our lands are vital for seabird productivity,and human disturbance of any kind is avoided. Also, much of our land is also Wilderness. Be sure to check with each individual Refuge to know where the Wilderness designations are. That said, it would be very difficult to even get to these areas in the first place, unless you were performing research with/for us. In Region 7 (Alaska), the region office has been warming up to some GPS/geocaching-related activities. The safest best so far would be to request permission for an Earthcache. However, most NWR lands are special because of the biology, not geology of the site. It would take some good understanding of geology and biology to make the connection at most Refuge lands to create a good Earthcache. Contact information for US Fish and Wildlife Refuge Managers can be found at www.fws.gov.
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