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Bobhiker

Geocaching in Minnesota! Will it be allowed to continue??

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I just got off the phone with a Minnesota State Park Manager. I wanted his opinion of geocaching. He said there was a meeting about it last week and that its been decided that it would not be allowed in all state parks. He gave me a number to a guy downtown St. Paul to talk to. I will try and talk to him today.

 

I met this week with a Nature Center manager in Richfield about placing a cache. I wanted to introduce her to the sport and all the educational possibilities that it has. I used examples of caches that some girl and boy scouts have started, what the White Cliff Recreation Area did with starting a cache in their park in Missouri, and the positive learning aspects of a travel bug for classes and groups. She was very interested and said she would think about it. She was interested in getting together with all the Nature Centers in the area and doing a cache in each center. She also suggested that a travel bug could move from center to center. She was open to discussing it more and I will continue to work with her.

 

This sport is going to be extremely limited to us if we continue just throwing caches into the woods. We need to work with park managers and educate them on the benefits of geocaching and the positive effects it can have on their parks. We need to be sensitive to the issues they have with geocaching. There are many issues and I know we can be creative and work within the boundaries of these issues. We cannot let geocaching be outlawed here in Minnesota and in the rest of the country. I think every park in the nation will be discussing geocaching this summer. Most sound like They're not going to allow it. Let's work with them to set guidelines to figure out a way to positively geocache in all parks. We need ideas.

 

I will try and talk to this guy and see what issues the state of Minnesota has with it.

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Bobhiker, thanks for getting started on talking to these folks. I recieved this note from Forestville Assistant Manager:

 

The main reason the decision was made was because of resource protection. Practically

all MN state parks have areas of fragile, if not protected environments that

could be damaged by heavy foot traffic. If these caches are placed in these

areas irreversable damage could be done to a single species or to an entire

ecosystem.

 

Feel free to contact Steve Anderson or Ron Hains, MN DNR, division of parks

at our central office in St Paul for any other information. I'm just doing

what I was told to do.

 

In response I sent off a note to the manager at Forestville just this morning. Here it is:

 

Thanks for dropping me a note. I think any responsible outdoors person

understands the importance of respecting fragile areas. If you follow what

the geo-cachers do you would see that their credo is to leave no impact. The

motto "cache in trash out" is a good indication of what they are doing. In

that Cleveland example you will see that both parks and cachers work

together to not impact the sensitive areas. In my experience the number of

visitors to the caches that I have placed is about 1 visit per week on

average. Some of the original ones that I have set have even lower numbers

of visits. If you have email address's of Steve Anderson and Ron Harris I

can send them a note. But, I really think that comments have to come from

folks like yourself . As a person in your position, working at the park

would understand the uses in a case by case basis. It appeared that from

your comments on using your mapping software and your gps that you may have

enjoyed the hunt for the cache in your park. Maybe you could try some others

and see for yourself the amount of impact and also how much fun this hobby

is. Again thanks for getting back to me. Jim K

 

So Bob if you find an ear that we can bend, please post it up here. JK

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I too sent an email to the Forestville Asst. Manager this morning asking the logic behind banning caches. I also sent an email off to the DNR asking on what state owned land it would be permitted. As of now I haven't heard back from either one.

 

I wanted to place a cache in the Bronk State Forest in Winona County. The place is a mess and I figured with cachers coming in it could be cleaned up. There were beer cans, garbage, used condoms, and shot up state owned signs all over the place. Then I learned about the ban in State Parks and decided against it. I did read some of the rules for State Forest land and found that you can hike off of trails which would make sense since it is open to hunting.

 

I wanted to ask the Forestville Asst. Manager what damage has been done since Sept. 8th (cache date)considering the fact that only 3 people logged finds to the cache and he was one!! 8 months of sitting out there. I also wanted to ask him if there was such a concern about damage to plants and such why was it that he had to use a GPS to find it? You would think if caches were so bad there would be a trail that you could drive a car down lined with beer cans and such.

 

I didn't ask those questions. I bit my tongue. Kind of rare for me!

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Thanks for the notes! I still have not been able to get ahold of anyone downtown. The number I was given is to Mr. Ron Hains. 651-296-2609.

 

If you have email addresses, let us know them. Maybe we can all email them to show support for our sport. There has got to be a way to do this responsibly in OUR State Parks. I know there are managers out there that support it. Then there are others that see it as just more junk and litter in the forest that we all want to tramp off and find.

 

I think if we come up with some standards for caching in our parks we can make this acceptable. The present caches are not that frequently visited. I think some things we can do is to keep them close to the trails. Use durable cache such as ammo boxes, well marked of course. I think the owner of a cache needs to manage it closely with the involvement of the park manager. Set them up with an account watching the cache so that they can monitor it via email. I also think that maybe they should be moved around often so that a trail is not trampled to a cache. Maybe parks would feel more comfortable with some kind of a locking system for each cache.

 

These are just some ideas to think about. I think we all will need to become familiar with their issues and work with them on how we can make this work. If anyone else has ideas, post them.

 

I have not heared anything other than that they had a meeting last week. Some of you sound like you know more. Let us know what you heard. Is anything in print yet? Did managers take your caches out of the parks?

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Here is the reply I got from Forestville:

 

I beleive the main reason the decision was made was because of resource protection.

 

Practically all MN state parks have areas of fragile, if not protected environments

that could be damaged even by foot traffic. If these caches are placed in these

areas irreversible damage could be done to a single species or to an entire

ecosystem.

 

The rule that I believe applies to the actual Geocache is:

Subp. 2. Abandonment. No vehicle, trailer, boat, fish house, or other equipment

or personal property may be stored or abandoned in a state park. In state parks,

overnight parking and storage of equipment is permitted only in connection with

the use of campsites or fish houses, except by prior approval of the park manager.

The temporary storage of personal property by a person who remains in the immediate

vicinity is permitted.

 

Feel free to contact Steve Anderson or Ron Hains, MN DNR, division of parks

at our central office in St Paul for any other information.

 

Arol McCaslin

Assistant Park Manager

 

The rule under Sub.2 is what I thought they were going to use to ban geocaching and I posted a reply in the other topic about illegal caches in MN.

 

According to the DNR web site email address follow this format:

 

Firstname.Lastname@dnr.state.mn.us

 

I do think that if we can ban together as a large group or union something can be worked out and should be worked out. I guess in the mean time don't go out and get a Natural Resources license plate and don't check that little box to donate money to the parks on your taxes (kind of a joke)!

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jesse.ventura@state.mn.us--I wonder what side he'll be on? Is there anybody interested in introducing him to geocaching? I know he's busy this weekend with the fishing opener, but maybe next weekend? 15T

 

www.1800goguard.com

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I wonder what would happen if people started to place virtual caches in parks where physical caches have been removed.

 

I would be rather ironic if one confiscated physical cache was to be replaced by say 50 virtual caches in the same park.

 

Mmmm.. interesting thought icon_wink.gif

 

TH.

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I wonder what would happen if people started to place virtual caches in parks where physical caches have been removed.

 

I would be rather ironic if one confiscated physical cache was to be replaced by say 50 virtual caches in the same park.

 

Mmmm.. interesting thought icon_wink.gif

 

TH.

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The rule that I believe applies to the actual Geocache is:

Subp. 2. Abandonment. No vehicle, trailer, boat, fish house, or other equipment

or personal property may be stored or abandoned in a state park. In state parks,

overnight parking and storage of equipment is permitted only in connection with

he use of campsites or fish houses, except by prior approval of the park manager.

The temporary storage of personal property by a person who remains in the immediate

vicinity is permitted.

Actually, this regulation can be used to *allow* caches to be placed. See the italics. You just need to get approval from the park manager.

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Don't mean to annoy anybody or put anything up for debate but...

 

If they want to allow geocaching in their state parks, they will. If they have no intention of allowing geocaching in their state parks, they won't. They are only meeting with your people to (more than likely) humor them. My guess is that it will take a major plea on local governments part to change their mind.

 

TOLD YOU SO!!!!!

 

I'm not taking as much fun in this as it would seem, because I think geocachers are about people APPRECIATING nature. Has anybody brought up to the MNDNR some sort of possible law saying they can be placed no farther than 5 feet away from the trails? Oh yeah, I guess we'll never know, will we?

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If they want to allow geocaching in their state parks, they will. If they have no intention of allowing geocaching in their state parks, they won't. They are only meeting with your people to (more than likely) humor them. My guess is that it will take a major plea on local governments part to change their mind.

 

This is what kind of started my (our) beef with the way the MnGCA board wants to deal with the DNR. The have stated several months ago that they felt the best way to get geocaching in MN State Parks is to do as they (DNR) say and maybe in a year they will relook at the policy. I, and others, feel we need to take a more proactive and aggressive approach and start letter writing and working with legislators to force the DNR to acknowledge geocaching and work with us to come up with a reasonable policy.

 

MnGCA has refused to ask, either by poll or outright, on how we, as members, feel we should react and deal with the MN DNR policies. They have gone ahead with their initial plans even amid some serious disention from the membership without so much as acknowledging an opposing view.

 

tomslusher

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Don't mean to annoy anybody or put anything up for debate but...

 

If they want to allow geocaching in their state parks, they will. If they have no intention of allowing geocaching in their state parks, they won't. They are only meeting with your people to (more than likely) humor them. My guess is that it will take a major plea on local governments part to change their mind.

 

TOLD YOU SO!!!!!

Maybe I'm just not following you on this "told you so." Here's what I see:

 

This thread is over three years old. Minnesota DNR set their "no geocaching" policy in 2002.

 

Why on earth would they want to talk to geocachers now..three years later?

 

Three years of a policy that has worked...has kept geocaches out of state parks...has kept park employees from having to pick up "trash" and keep geocachers off their fragile ground.

 

Why would they be willing to meet with MnGCA representatives? What could possess them to do that?

 

I can't see any reason to "humor" anyone at this point. Three years is a good period of time to establish and maintain a policy...especially one that requires no effort on DNR's part. Simply saying "no geocaches" means they don't have to set a "working policy," they don't have to establish contacts within the geocaching community, they don't have to print up licenses like other states or maintain lists of geocaches in their parks. It's easy!

 

So why would they be willing to sit down and talk? To humor someone?? Are they really going to use their time to meet with a committee and simply....humor someone?

 

It could be that they've seen what a "working policy" has done in other states. How geocaching brings tourists into parks. How geocachers are more than happy to volunteer to CITO and teach classes and provide a lot of free advertisement for the parks.

 

This is a government agency, after all. You don't suppose it's a matter of....money?

 

At any rate, I think it's great. I remember when word first came down that Minnesota DNR was outlawing geocaching. There were doomsday prophets who said that this was the end of geocaching...that other states would follow suit.

 

Well, maybe...just maybe...Minnesota is taking a hard look at other states and realizing that these geeks in the woods ain't such a bad crowd after all. Maybe they're realizing that these people rent campgrounds, buy day permits, pick up garbage, reserve pavilions to host events in state parks that bring people in by the hundreds, and consume an astonishingly large number of Moon Pies from the concession stands. Maybe Minnesota has decided it's time to hop this gravy train and ride it like a....well...like a thing that you ride...for a long time...for a long way.

 

Hey, maybe I'm wrong. But I'm glad to see someone is talking.

 

Bret

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This is my idea (and by saying this I am in no way saying that it would actually work... I just think that if I'm going to criticize anything or add to this forum anymore than I should have my own ideas to throw out)

 

1. Get the MN cachers together and talk to every town, city and county park department they can find and get it in writing that caches are permitted (which I'm sure they are in most, but not all). Set up some standards, regulations, yada yada. While your there, get some letters of recomendation from the park superintendents.

 

2. Get some STATISTICAL FACTS from other states DNRs. Try www.geocachingpolicy.info for some good info. Prove to them, right there in writing and percentages that geocaching actually DOESN'T harm the environment any more than hikers and "normal" users do. Show them the deer population going UP. Show them high risk plants and wildlife are doing BETTER THAN EVER. Show them all these things have happened within the time frame that geocaching has been permitted. Remind them that unlike nature preserves, state parks were intended for conservation, not preservation. (AKA user-friendly). If state parks were intended for preservation, there would be NO campsites, NO trashcans, etc, etc.

 

3. Go to your local universities and find some professors (aka experts) to testify on your behalf. Most of these people have had more education in the plant and wildlife saving scene than most DNR employees, and most DNR and universities work together ANYWAY. These are people they already trust.

 

4. Get these things together, in a presentation. Set up one more meeting. Bombard them with the facts and experts. Invite local park superintendents to speak, invite the professors to speak, give them handouts on the FACTS of the matter. If they still believe that geocaching is bad for the fragile systems (more so than everyday visitor use) then I think you might have some sort of grounds to appeal the decision (if thats possible, which being a democratic society, it should be).

 

Well, I can say that I have been watching this subject closely because my degree is in outdoor recreation (Natural Resources Dept.). Just wanted to justify to my own psychotic mind why I haven't been able to leave this topic alone, though I live in indiana. Hope these ideas help. If they've already tried them, sorry. I'm not trying to tell you all how to handle your problems, just wanted to throw out some possible solutions.

 

PS CYBret - I only say that because I feel like if they had meetings with people, then they could justify their decision by the ol' "We conducted several meetings with representitives of the minnesota geocaching organization and after further review, we feel we have made an informed decision" routine. After all, the DNR is still the government, and government is still ran by politicians.

Edited by Miss Eagerbeaver

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