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Guidelines for Placing Geocaches in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, SK


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Guidelines for Placing Geocaches in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, SK

 

Introduction

 

These guidelines for geocaching pertains only to the Centre Block and West Block of Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, SK. They have been developed out of concern for the safety of the public, concern for the natural environment and the flora and fauna.

The geocaching community will be made aware of these guidelines, on their website at www.geocaching.com through the Saskatchewan liason, and made available to the public. Through this process, geocaches already placed in the park will be "allowed" to come under scrutiny and will be pulled if they don't meet with the criteria suggested by Park Management.

 

Preliminary

In keeping with the Park's policy of assessing all new recreational and sporting activities occurring in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, SK, Park Management is assessing the activity of geocaching.

In reviewing this activity, Park Management is considering the benefits and potential risks this activity poses, particularly with respect to the mandate on protecting and preserving Saskatchewan's natural, historical and cultural heritage in ways that encourage public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment, while ensuring the long-term ecological integrity of the Cypress Hills.

The following guidelines will be put into effect for May 1, 2008.

* Caches that are placed within the park boundaries must meet with specific criteria. Permission from Park Management must be acquired before caches are allowed to be placed in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, SK

Criteria includes:

* Caches must be located on existing trails and other public accessible areas

* Caches must have an education or interpretive message that relates to the Park

* Caches need to be monitored regularly, then removed and archived over the winter months

* Caches must not contain any food or scented items

* Coordinates must be given to Park Management for approval

* Caches must be approved by Park Management

 

In order to provide regulatory and compliance guidelines for managing geocaches, a moratorium has been put on all physical caches already placed in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, SK. Existing physical caches will be removed and their website postings will be archived.

Park Managemnet is sorry for any inconvenience this may cause, however, several geocaches already placed in the park are on private land, causing concern from local ranchers; several geocaches were placed out of bounds as a result of the fire ban from the two previous years; one geocache is placed in a rare orchid community; another is placed in an area where only park maintenance has access. Hence, Park Management's attention to geocaches already placed in the park.

 

Guidelines regarding geocaches in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, SK were developed in response to the following concerns regarding the activity of geocaching.

 

* Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics

Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, SK has adopted the Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics, and Park Management has worked hard to promote minimal-impact techniques in the park and to park visitors. Both the placement of physical geocaches and travel off designated trails are at odds with the education efforts in this regard.

It creates a double standard to allow geocachers to do one thing, while trying to be a role model for our education and interpretation programs.

 

* Littering prohibited

The littering aspect of placing a geocache "out there" is against Provincial Park Policy and Regulations. Fines are imposed for this illegality.

Pursuant to P1.1 - Reg 6, under the Saskatchewan Park's Regulations: Sec 38: Littering Prohibited . . .

No person shall leave or dispose of any glass, bottles, cans, cartons, bags, garbage, paper, dirt, tree limbs, or similar refuse on park land except in a place or receptacle provided by the minister for the purpose.

 

* Off-Trail Use

Many wild fauna (animals) and flora (vegetation) species may be affected by off-trail travel, specifically at certain times of the year when they are breeding, nesting, raising young and/or blooming. Maintaining undisturbed and unfragmented habitat is a key priority in protected areas in the park. Unmanaged placement of off-trail geocaches contributes to increased impacts to wildlife and wild flora.

 

Trampled vegetation and soil erosion are also associated with off-trail use. In the fescue grasslands, it takes only a few passes by people, to create a highly visible "social" trail, which in turn, encourage further use and increase impacts.

 

There are some places in the park that designated off-limits to the public, or may become off-limits for reasons of their own safety, for the protection of wildlife, wild flora, and for park maintenance.

 

* Impacts to Natural, Historical and Cultural Heritage

A geocacher may unintentionally disturb historical and cultural artifacts and landscapes. In Saskatchewan, the Heritage Property Act, 1980, protects artifacts for the people of Saskatchewan. Artifacts include: fossils, First Nations artifacts, North West Mounted Police and early homesteaders memorabilia. Unintentionally, the earth could be disturbed, unknowingly in an area where artifacts have lain for many years. Once the earth is disturbed, artifacts may become disarticulated, relocated or removed, and lose their relevance to the scientific community and destroy the opportunity for interpretation.

 

Placement of a geocache would be inappropriate and could cause damage to protected and sensitive natural, historical and cultural resources.

 

* Public Safety

Public safety concerns related to geocaching are based on the potential for increased off-trail travel in areas where the public may be at risk. The terrain in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is composed of loose sands, gravels and cobblestones as this is the geology indicative of the Cypress Hills Formation. Footing can become an issue in many areas where erosion has occurred.

 

In Canada, the Cypress Hills has the highest elevation between the Rocky Mountains and the mountains in Labrador. The air is thinner because of the high altitude, and people don't realize how physically taxing a hike up a hill can be. With the high elevation, the Cypress Hills has its own mini-climate, and weather can be a factor at any time of the year.

 

There may be trail closures related to weather, wildlife, flora, park maintenance, park industry (ie, tree harvesting and cattle moving), fire hazards, or for other reasons deemed necessary by Park Management, that declare areas to become off-limits for reasons of public safety.

 

Summary

The Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park's key objective is to provide for visitors to enhance their enjoyment, participate in interesting and educational experiences and activities in ways that minimize potential impacts. Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, SK, recognizes that the geocaching community has worked hard to maintain a respectful attitude towards nature and to promote responsible behaviour. We look forward to collaborating on the development of creative management solutions that enhance the stewardship of geocaching in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, SK.

 

To all geocache owners that have geocaches placed in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, SK, and on private land bordering the park, this is your notice that your cache has been pulled, (if you haven't already pulled it over the winter months). Geocachers may contact Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, SK at cypresshills@gov.sk.ca for further questions about cache removal. Caches will be kept at the new Visitor Centre (by the lake) and may be picked up there.

 

These guidelines pertain only to the Centre Block and the West Block of Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, SK.

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