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Geocaching Banned in North Dakota State Wildlife Management Areas

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Geocaching is banned on all North Dakota State Wildlife Management lands. I have "cut and paste" the news release annoucing this ban:

 

"Published June 07 2009 Fargo Forum"

By: Associated Press, INFORUM

BISMARCK - The state Game and Fish Department says paintballing and geocaching are banned in state wildlife management areas under new rules.

 

Supervisor Scott Peterson says those activities create a ``considerable amount of unnecessary disturbance to both wildlife and wildlife habitat.'

 

Geocaching is a treasure-hunting game in which someone hides a container and posts the coordinates online.

 

Here is the actual public use notice from the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

Public Use Regulations for State Wildlife Management Areas

NORTH DAKOTA GAME AND FISH DEPARTMENT

 

The following rules are authorized by Chapter 20.1-11 of the North Dakota Century Code and established in Chapter 30-04-02 of the North Dakota Administrative Code.

 

1. Public access and use. All state wildlife management areas

are open for public hunting, fishing, and trapping, except as provided under this chapter, governor’s proclamation, other valid rules and regulations or laws, or as posted at public road entry points.

... sub pars 20

20. Geocaching prohibited.

1. No person shall engage in any form of geocaching on any state wildlife management area.

2. The term “geocaching” refers to an outdoor treasure-hunting game in which the participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers (called “geocaches” or “caches”). A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook and “treasure,”.

 

If you want to see the full document contact me. I believe this is a true WTF moment.

 

Steven A. Collins

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There is a very similar ban in South Dakota. However, Geocaching is allowed in most Nebraska WMA units and in Wyoming WMA areas. Odd how different states view exactly the same activity in the same sort of areas.

 

Have the local Geocaching groups spoken to State offcials about this ban? Do they plan to?

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Sounds similar to state game lands in Michigan. I understand geocaching (among other things) isn't allowed on those properties because of how they are funded.

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There is a very similar ban in South Dakota. However, Geocaching is allowed in most Nebraska WMA units and in Wyoming WMA areas. Odd how different states view exactly the same activity in the same sort of areas.

 

Have the local Geocaching groups spoken to State offcials about this ban? Do they plan to?

 

There were not public discussions or notices prior to the ban. It was buried in a legislative funding bill. The issue arose from a complaint by a bow hunter that people geocaching disturbed his hunt. Since hunters pay fees and geocahers do not...yata yata yata.

 

Steve

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So, shooting hot lead into animals flesh, ripping barbed hooks into their mouths or using spring loaded devices to break their legs... well, thats all fine.

 

But omg - no way can we let people walk around and place Tupperware in the woods!

 

(I'm fine with hunting, etc, please don't take this as a critisim of those activities)

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I can see limiting geocaching due to issues on managed lands with off trail activity, but I really doubt that hunters and fishermen stay on trail at all times.

 

How much land and how many current caches are we talking about here?

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I can see limiting geocaching due to issues on managed lands with off trail activity, but I really doubt that hunters and fishermen stay on trail at all times.

 

How much land and how many current caches are we talking about here?

 

For me the issue is not the volume of land being restricted or the number of caches now off limits. The broader issue is the perspective that the geocache community is some how more disruptive to wildlife or that we have a negative impact on the wildlife management areas.

 

I believe as a whole, the geocache community has the least impact and is the most environmentally conscious group using public lands. The fact that laws are in place to restrict this group is myopic and serves only a diminishing number of hunters.

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Two point

 

Can you post a link to the official Public Use Notice?

 

We don't have this problem here in Alberta (Canada), but the local reviewer has stoped posting new caches in Provicial Parks without the express writen permission from the local manager. So far, no one has managed to get permission. Seems the Provicial Parks are trying to come up with an official procedure to approve caches. You know how slow government things happen, it could take years. Several local regonal groups have been allowed some input, but who knows what the resutl will be.

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Two point

 

Can you post a link to the official Public Use Notice?

 

We don't have this problem here in Alberta (Canada), but the local reviewer has stoped posting new caches in Provicial Parks without the express writen permission from the local manager. So far, no one has managed to get permission. Seems the Provicial Parks are trying to come up with an official procedure to approve caches. You know how slow government things happen, it could take years. Several local regonal groups have been allowed some input, but who knows what the resutl will be.

 

Sorry, I can not post a link to the official notice because they have not posted it to the ND State web site yet. I had to request the notice using the public records law. Once they post the notice I will put a link here. I do have a word document with the notice.

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I can't believe that they group geocaching with paintballing!!

 

If they found a coffin it does NOT belong to me..

 

MN banned geocaching in WMAs, SNAs, AMAs, several years ago. Existing caches at the time were grandfathered.

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I can't believe that they group geocaching with paintballing!!

 

If they found a coffin it does NOT belong to me..

 

MN banned geocaching in WMAs, SNAs, AMAs, several years ago. Existing caches at the time were grandfathered.

 

If they found a coffin there, you could simply say that it was your deer blind. No problem.

Edited by knowschad

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I can't believe that they group geocaching with paintballing!!

 

If they found a coffin it does NOT belong to me..

 

MN banned geocaching in WMAs, SNAs, AMAs, several years ago. Existing caches at the time were grandfathered.

 

If they found a coffin there, you could simply say that it was your deer blind. No problem.

 

Good idea. As long as the tradable items are hunting related, just claim it is not a GeoCache, but just a hunting cache (in the traditional sence) for next time you are out hunting,

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That's Pathetic by them. Originally in Ohio it was talked about being banned from state parks. Someone spoke to the ODNR (Ohio Department Of Natural Resources) and they want as many caches as we can possibly hide in their parks.

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Geocaching has lost much of it's value since becoming an acceptable form of recreation. Maybe becoming banned will bring back the excitement factor to the hobby.

 

When someone tells me I can't do something that I have every right to do, it makes me want to do it even more!

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Geocaching has lost much of it's value since becoming an acceptable form of recreation. Maybe becoming banned will bring back the excitement factor to the hobby.

 

When someone tells me I can't do something that I have every right to do, it makes me want to do it even more!

 

When geocaching is outlawed only outlaws will geocache.

 

;)

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Geocaching has lost much of it's value since becoming an acceptable form of recreation. Maybe becoming banned will bring back the excitement factor to the hobby.

 

When someone tells me I can't do something that I have every right to do, it makes me want to do it even more!

 

When geocaching is outlawed only outlaws will geocache.

 

;)

 

They will pry my GPS from my dead cold fingers.

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When someone tells me I can't do something that I have every right to do, it makes me want to do it even more!

 

Hey! You can't say that here!!

 

They will pry my GPS from my dead cold fingers.

 

Remember... they have guns in that Wildlife Management area!

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I can see limiting geocaching due to issues on managed lands with off trail activity, but I really doubt that hunters and fishermen stay on trail at all times.

 

How much land and how many current caches are we talking about here?

 

Managed lands (insofar as Fish and Game) shouldn't have trails to stay on. You have to be able to roam. After all you are supposed to find your deer. Especially if you didn't get a clean kill and it ran on you. Which as it happens is a form of caching.

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I can see limiting geocaching due to issues on managed lands with off trail activity, but I really doubt that hunters and fishermen stay on trail at all times.

 

How much land and how many current caches are we talking about here?

 

Managed lands (insofar as Fish and Game) shouldn't have trails to stay on. You have to be able to roam. After all you are supposed to find your deer. Especially if you didn't get a clean kill and it ran on you. Which as it happens is a form of caching.

 

So if I am tracking a wounded deer and using a gps to create a bread crumb tail...am I geocaching? If I use a GPS to locate my tree stand for bow hunting, am I geocaching? If I get lost and try and find my way back to my truck, am I geocaching?

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So if I am tracking a wounded deer and using a gps to create a bread crumb tail...am I geocaching? If I use a GPS to locate my tree stand for bow hunting, am I geocaching? If I get lost and try and find my way back to my truck, am I geocaching?

 

No. You are simply using a GPS to navigate. There is no cache involved.

 

 

I'd love to create a micro in one of those areas that looked like a spent shotgun shell. I'd have to rate it a 4.5 difficulty due to the huge number of real spent shotgun shells.

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I modified the topic title to more accurately reflect the topic subject. I am also going to move this to the regional forums where it belongs.

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They should have done what DCNR (State Parks) here in Pennsylvania has done: require a permit signed by the park manager for the placement of a cache. Require that the cache be removed after three years when the permit expires. Require that the cache be placed so as to minimalize disturbance of the environment.

 

As more and more people discover geocaching, each cache will tend to receive many more visitors, which means more destruction to the environment immediately adjacent to the cache itself. If the geocaching community wants to prevent even more governmental bodies and land management agencies from banning caching, then both cache hiders and cache seekers must work together to emphasize hides that minimize disturbance to natural (or urban, as the case may be) settings, as well as to keep noncachers from getting negatively involved by placing hides that attract too much attention due to extremely public placement.

 

More emphasis needs to be placed on the need for cache hiders to THINK before hiding. Will cachers destroy delicate plants or rock formations while searching? Will fragile landscapes or vegetation be trampled as people leave the main trail to reach GZ? Will searchers attract attention from law enforcement officers, residents of the nearby houses, or business owners? If the point of the cache is to trick or challenge people with a clever hide, then the cache should be placed far from prying eyes and in a setting that is durable enough to withstand extensive searching. If the purpose of the cache is to bring people to a nice view, historical site, quaint cemetery, fun park, or cool spot in the city, then the cache should be hidden only to the extent that it is relatively safe from muggles, but not so cleverly that searchers need create spectacles of themselves to access or locate the container.

 

I believe that the future of geocaching depends on trying to stay "under the radar" so to speak. Yes, it's great to have publicity and to have more (new) cachers to hide things for us to find, and to find the things that we hide. But if the result is that ill-conceived hides and careless or destructive searchers keep increasing and generating negative publicity, more and more areas will find caching restricted or banned.

Edited by whistler & co.

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Geocaching has lost much of it's value since becoming an acceptable form of recreation. Maybe becoming banned will bring back the excitement factor to the hobby.

 

When someone tells me I can't do something that I have every right to do, it makes me want to do it even more!

 

When geocaching is outlawed only outlaws will geocache.

 

;)

 

They will pry my GPS from my dead cold fingers.

 

Yes, and it'll probably be a bowhunter that kills you!

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I guess that's why we have earth caches. We are learning about the earth, geology and such...not caching.

 

Or we can start putting tree stands all around and placing caches in them....

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The decision to keep geocachers off certain public lands has a bt of logic to it.

In cases where hunting is allowed, it is disruptive to the hunting if geocachers are going through the hunting grounds making the animals a little edgy. After all, we want Bambi to be calm, relaxed, comfortable right before we blow his head off, right?

As for the painballing ban, it would be a good defense for a hunter if he said "I saw something hiding in the bushes and it looked like a deer" when asked why the paintballer was sent to his maker.

 

Now, I don't agree with the bans, but I see the logic.

 

Personally, I find it silly that people can hunt and kill the wildlife but its not cool for people to hunt little treasures while respecting the wildlife.

 

The bottom line is this property is PUBLIC, for PUBLIC use. To limit one kind of public use but not another (especially when it is more destructive) is ridiculous. But, hey, my opinions aren't always the popular ones.

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Here is a response from the ND Game & Fish that I received this afternoon:

 

In response to your inquiry as to why the ND Game and Fish Department would ban geo-caching, I’ll attempt to give you the executive summary.

 

Geocachers, regardless of how careful they are, will have an impact on the habitat on a wildlife management area (WMA). These WMAs are managed for specific purposes, namely wildlife production and public hunting. The management costs of these areas are paid for by the sale of hunting licenses and excise taxes on the sale of hunting equipment.

 

Not so many years ago, geocaching use on our lands was very infrequent and the associated impact was of little significance. However, we have been getting steadily more requests from geocachers to use these areas and there have been recent instances where geocachers have conflicted with the hunting public on our WMAs. When these types of conflicts are brought to our attention, we have a responsibility to address it. The question that we must then answer is, if we are asked to limit to the use of a WMA, who should have priority use? It is our belief that those who are helping pay the bills for the management of these areas should be granted priority use over those that do not.

 

In terms of wildlife habitat impacts, I would agree that geocachers and paintballers are not in the same category in terms of disturbance. None the less, they do both have an impact on wildlife habitat and also create disturbances to wildlife. It would be irresponsible for us to ignore that fact and do nothing to prevent it.

 

I should also tell you that our Administrative Rules do not get amended without due process. The first step we take is to advertise the proposed amendments and announce a public hearing to gather input on the proposed changes. We received very little opposition to the proposed changes during that process.

 

It is certainly not our intent to eliminate geocaching as a hobby for those of you who choose to partake of it. However, in the opinion of the Department, we simply don’t think that our lands are the appropriate place to do it.

 

I hope this helps clarify why the decision was made to prohibit geo caching on WMAs. I realize that this decision may not be applauded by everyone but again, we do have a responsibility to our constituents and we believe we are fulfilling that responsibility.

 

Sincerely,

Scott A. Peterson

Wildlife Resource Section Leader

ND Game and Fish Department

[phone number removed by moderator--please don't post personal information of third parties without their permission, Thanks!]

Edited by Electric Mouse

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Are there really THAT many cachers stomping about causing disturbances in the backwoods of North Dakota? It would not surprise me if this was precipitated by a single incident that just happened to involve "someone" (like a state representative or head honcho of some company or someone else with political clout).

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I can see limiting geocaching due to issues on managed lands with off trail activity, but I really doubt that hunters and fishermen stay on trail at all times.

 

How much land and how many current caches are we talking about here?

 

Managed lands (insofar as Fish and Game) shouldn't have trails to stay on. You have to be able to roam. After all you are supposed to find your deer. Especially if you didn't get a clean kill and it ran on you. Which as it happens is a form of caching.

 

So if I am tracking a wounded deer and using a gps to create a bread crumb tail...am I geocaching? If I use a GPS to locate my tree stand for bow hunting, am I geocaching? If I get lost and try and find my way back to my truck, am I geocaching?

If you keep a log book of your field observations at your stand, blind, or what have you, by the letter of the law, you are geocaching.

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Are there really THAT many cachers stomping about causing disturbances in the backwoods of North Dakota? It would not surprise me if this was precipitated by a single incident that just happened to involve "someone" (like a state representative or head honcho of some company or someone else with political clout).

 

No there aren't. They passed a law that applies to maybe 20 people a year in any one Managment area. It's not always the magnitude of the "Problem" as it is the Magnitude of the Political Attitude that gets a solution.

Edited by Renegade Knight

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Here is a response from the ND Game & Fish that I received this afternoon:

 

In response to your inquiry as to why the ND Game and Fish Department would ban geo-caching, I’ll attempt to give you the executive summary.

 

Geocachers, regardless of how careful they are, will have an impact on the habitat on a wildlife management area (WMA). These WMAs are managed for specific purposes, namely wildlife production and public hunting. The management costs of these areas are paid for by the sale of hunting licenses and excise taxes on the sale of hunting equipment. ta da ta da ta ...

 

An acceptable answer as long as they have also banned hiking, bird watching, wildflower photography, trail running, and all other non hunting activities. Those people also get close to the wildlife, possibly disturbing it and do not contribute to the financial end with hunting licenses or hunting equipment purchases.

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....

An acceptable answer as long as they have also banned hiking, bird watching, wildflower photography, trail running, and all other non hunting activities. Those people also get close to the wildlife, possibly disturbing it and do not contribute to the financial end with hunting licenses or hunting equipment purchases.

Totally agreed - I can't see how Geocachers could have any more of an impact than folks pursuing any of those activities.

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....

An acceptable answer as long as they have also banned hiking, bird watching, wildflower photography, trail running, and all other non hunting activities. Those people also get close to the wildlife, possibly disturbing it and do not contribute to the financial end with hunting licenses or hunting equipment purchases.

Totally agreed - I can't see how Geocachers could have any more of an impact than folks pursuing any of those activities.

 

Seems to me the real point is that it is public land. That is to say owned by the citizens of the state of North Dakota. As such, the land, regardless of who pays what fees is open to the everyone. If anything the hunters should be upset that they are being singled out to pay a tax on their pass time whereas joggers, bird watchers, wildlife photographers, campers, hikers, mountain bikers, cross country skiers, land scape artists, or anyone else that has free use of the land don't have to pay any fees/taxes.

A reasonable solution might be to assign a "geocaching season" in much the same spirit as there are deer seasons. in that way the state could regulate which activities are taking place at which times of the year. Big game hunting is not open year round so there is room for a compromise there. If the state isn't open to that, then someone needs to look into the states anti discrimination laws. It is possible that this ban violates state law unless it also covers all other outdoor activities that are not expressly hunting related.

 

Or the civil disobedient in me says to move ALL affected caches to

 

1131 North 4th st

Bismark ND, 58501

 

You can get exact GPS co-ordinates when you hide the cache.

See if the govna wants geocachers in his front yard or in the woods

 

Nah that wouldn't be nice :D

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"Or the civil disobedient in me says to move ALL affected caches to

 

1131 North 4th st

Bismark ND, 58501

 

You can get exact GPS co-ordinates when you hide the cache.

See if the govna wants geocachers in his front yard or in the woods

 

Nah that wouldn't be nice :D "

 

:) I liked that commit

Edited by The Ravens

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As was said before the same thing happened in South Dakota. I am assuming that it is the land used for hunting and fishing. If it is the same as SD the land is paid for by hunting liscenses, guns, and ammo. It is not paid for by taxpayers. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense but in three months most of you won't miss them. I don't.

 

StaticTank

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North Dakota Geocachers are now forming an official Non-profit organization for the promotion of geocaching and the protection of the rights of cachers in the state. We will be pursuing this further through official channels. We do have some ins with the state and the Fish and Game Department.

 

We'll keep everyone informed.

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I somewhat agree with the state, if it costs money to manage the lands, the people who front those costs get priority over those who don't.

 

I also agree with the idea to make Geocaching a season, just like any other hunting season. If the lands are paid for by hunting licences, then raise revenue by selling Geocache licences during the Geocache season.

 

Searching for Geocaches could be $15-$20 for a statewide seasonal permit (minors are free). The permit could also allow you to hide 1 registered geocache to limit how many are placed. Instead of simply shutting the door on an entire hobby, just monetize it. Duh?

 

As a person who also loves to play paintball, that should be a permanent ban. Paintball should only be played on private fields where the owner doesn't care if his woods are torn up. There is no way to play that game in the woods and have limited impact on the enviornment. You just can't.

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There is a very similar ban in South Dakota. However, Geocaching is allowed in most Nebraska WMA units and in Wyoming WMA areas. Odd how different states view exactly the same activity in the same sort of areas.

 

Have the local Geocaching groups spoken to State offcials about this ban? Do they plan to?

 

There were not public discussions or notices prior to the ban. It was buried in a legislative funding bill. The issue arose from a complaint by a bow hunter that people geocaching disturbed his hunt. Since hunters pay fees and geocahers do not...yata yata yata.

 

Steve

There usually is public discussion but the means and methods of getting notice out to people actually interested is extremely limited. You have to pay attention to everthing to pick out the one thing you actually are interested in.

 

By and large hunting and trapping are a much larger disturbance to wildelife since the goal there is to kill it.

I'm not sure what their logic on this is. Less disturbed wildlife so that hunders can shoot and trap happier wildlife?

 

I don't mind hunting but I do mind losing an activity with less disturbance than the sacred cow.

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I somewhat agree with the state, if it costs money to manage the lands, the people who front those costs get priority over those who don't....

 

You have a bit of a misnomer in the mix. It costs money to manage the lands for a purpose. Tracking wildlife so that you can regulate the hunting to keep your populations healthy viable, and such, takes money.

 

You don't have any such need for geocaching or hiking. Thus at most we may pay for a permit for a cache so that we can pay for the person to say, "ok it's on a remote chunck of ground the 12 visits a year this cache will get won't be a problem". Or they can cut to the chase and just say it's not worth regulating to begin with.

 

You can also factor in other things. I don't hunt. I support hunting but I won't support hunting to the exclusion of the things that I do enjoy on the same lands that hunting takes place on. Wildlife can be enjoyed by cachers as much as hunters.

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Just as an update....

 

Geocaching is not BANNED on WMA lands in ND. Placing a caching is not allowed without prior approval from Fish and Game is the way it is looking now. (For now nobody as approval). If the hotheads and idiots that tend to run things for everyone will stay calm this could turn out to be a good thing for both sides in the end. I can't say much else right now.

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Just as an update....

 

Geocaching is not BANNED on WMA lands in ND. Placing a caching is not allowed without prior approval from Fish and Game is the way it is looking now. (For now nobody as approval). If the hotheads and idiots that tend to run things for everyone will stay calm this could turn out to be a good thing for both sides in the end. I can't say much else right now.

 

Looks promising. The offical answer from Scott above was a good start to a dialog.

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