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rragan

National Parks and Geolocation Games

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Posted (edited)

It looks like National Parks may have changed their views on geolocation games in the parks.

 

"“One of our goals as part of the National Park Service Centennial is to connect with and create the next generation of park visitors, supporters, and advocates,” Rains writes in an email. “Games that use geolocation are a new and emerging opportunity to bring new audiences to the park.”

 

This article goes into more detail specifically for Pokemon Go.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/07/pokemon-go-national-parks-level-up/

 

Currently grandfathered virtuals and Earth Caches are pretty much what our game has to offer. Much as the NPS is trying to generate more interest in going to parks and foster love of the outdoors in a new generation, it seems we ought to be doing something similar.

 

While Earthcaches are educational, not every park has geologic features worthy of one. Nor do many players have an interest in them. I know new virtuals are no more but as a cache type they are perfect for parks as they can educate and can be setup to safeguard the park property and vegetation -- unlike physical caches.

 

Geocaching.com together with the Park Service could innovate together by finding appropriate places for new virtuals but only in National Parks and monuments including National Historic Parks. This limited relaxation of the ban on virtuals would not resurrect the problems that led to their retirement. Badges or awards could exist for players who find a certain number of them. No new icon type would be needed.

Edited by rragan
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Nice, thanks for sharing.

 

Geocaching.com together with the Park Service could innovate together by finding appropriate places for new virtuals but only in National Parks and monuments including National Historic Parks. This limited relaxation of the ban on virtuals would not resurrect the problems that led to their retirement.

 

I disagree that a, "limited relaxation of the ban on virtuals would not resurrect the problems that led to their retirement."

 

One of the major problems with virtual caches is that many land managers prefer them. If the virtual option is available, the physical option fails.

 

Currently, physical caches are being allowed by National Parks. The fastest way to shut down this easing of past restrictions on physical caches in US National park would be to bring back a virtual option. The NPS is even supporting its ownGeoTour. Additionally there's been a shift towards physical caches in some National Wildlife Refuges, dependent on their initial purposes and funding. There are physical caches in 4 NWR in Florida, and two National Parks.

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Nice, thanks for sharing.

 

Geocaching.com together with the Park Service could innovate together by finding appropriate places for new virtuals but only in National Parks and monuments including National Historic Parks. This limited relaxation of the ban on virtuals would not resurrect the problems that led to their retirement.

 

I disagree that a, "limited relaxation of the ban on virtuals would not resurrect the problems that led to their retirement."

 

One of the major problems with virtual caches is that many land managers prefer them. If the virtual option is available, the physical option fails.

 

Currently, physical caches are being allowed by National Parks. The fastest way to shut down this easing of past restrictions on physical caches in US National park would be to bring back a virtual option. The NPS is even supporting its ownGeoTour. Additionally there's been a shift towards physical caches in some National Wildlife Refuges, dependent on their initial purposes and funding. There are physical caches in 4 NWR in Florida, and two National Parks.

 

I know they have relaxed some on physical caches but there are places where such are just not going to work but have significant interest. Variety is what interests people as much as finding a container so I think there is a place for physical, earth caches, Wherigos and some new virtuals.

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Posted (edited)

It looks like National Parks may have changed their views on geolocation games in the parks.

 

""One of our goals as part of the National Park Service Centennial is to connect with and create the next generation of park visitors, supporters, and advocates," Rains writes in an email. "Games that use geolocation are a new and emerging opportunity to bring new audiences to the park."

 

This article goes into more detail specifically for Pokemon Go.

https://journeyguybl.../gentle-giants/

 

Currently grandfathered virtuals and Earth Caches are pretty much what our game has to offer. Much as the NPS is trying to generate more interest in going to parks and foster love of the outdoors in a new generation, it seems we ought to be doing something similar.

 

While Earthcaches are educational, not every park has geologic features worthy of one. Nor do many players have an interest in them. I know new virtuals are no more but as a cache type they are perfect for parks as they can educate and can be setup to safeguard the park property and vegetation -- unlike physical caches.

 

Geocaching.com together with the Park Service could innovate together by finding appropriate places for new virtuals but only in National Parks and monuments including National Historic Parks. This limited relaxation of the ban on virtuals would not resurrect the problems that led to their retirement. Badges or awards could exist for players who find a certain number of them. No new icon type would be needed.

 

Seems to me that a Wherigo would be a great cache type for a National Park. Lots of regional parks that allow caches have requirements above and beyond the GS placement guidelines. State Parks in NY require a permit. IMHO, the worse thing that could happen if a National Park allowed geocaching would be for a few people to saturate the park with cheap containers and then not maintain them. I think we'd have a better chance of convincing National Parks to allow traditional caches, but more restricted than what the GS guidelines allow than have GS bring back virtual caches, even just for National Parks.

 

I know that this article is about National Parks in the U.S. but keep in mind that pretty much every country has National Parks and they're all going to have their own policies.

 

"not every park has geological features worthy of one [earth caches]". Really?

Edited by NYPaddleCacher
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I agree with Isonzo Karst that geocachers should continue to focus on the growing trend to place physical caches in National Parks, where permitted by local management. There are any number of successful examples. Physical caches are at the core of the activity of geocaching.

 

I also agree that, if virtual caches are offered as an option, they will negate the trend towards physical caches being permitted, since virtuals are the easy way to say yes to a cache placement. If a particular spot can't support a physical cache, then make it a virtual waypoint in a multicache.

 

There's also the issue around the "fairness" of allowing virtual caches in just USA National Parks. Why not in Australia? Poland? Brazil? Before you know it, the cat is out of the bag and soon it becomes a tiger that cannot be caught by the tail.

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"While Earthcaches are educational, not every park has geologic features worthy of one. "

 

Couldn't disagree with this statement more. Hard to imagine anyplace on planet Earth that doesn't have something to offer in terms of an Earthcache topic.

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We already have Waymarkin and no new virtuals are needed. Virtuals are NOT geocaches, they are POI's. :anibad:

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While it is great that the National Parks are open to more geolocation based experiences, I would still be very cautious about placing physical caches inside National Parks. I'd hate to see people tear apart an area just to find a film canister. Some area are extremely sensitive and it would be horrible if an area gets destroyed by over zealous cachers.

 

In my area, state parks require a permit to place a cache, and something similar would definitely be needed. This wouldn't stop all people from trying to place a cache before a permit is secured, but it would help. Heavy policing by GS would also be needed, even to the point of ensure that the cache is picked up after a permit runs out. Groundspeak needs to promote a good stewardship of the lands and could face heave criticism if it is seen as something detrimental to the health of the parks.

 

This is where I would propose a new type of "virtual" cache. I have no idea what to call it, but it would be a cross between Earthcaches and Virtuals.. It would require a permit and permission to place and go through a similar review process of an Eathcache, but the scope would be a bit more broad.

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This is where I would propose a new type of "virtual" cache. I have no idea what to call it, but it would be a cross between Earthcaches and Virtuals.. It would require a permit and permission to place and go through a similar review process of an Eathcache, but the scope would be a bit more broad.

 

What would be the logging requirements? :unsure:

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This is where I would propose a new type of "virtual" cache. I have no idea what to call it, but it would be a cross between Earthcaches and Virtuals.. It would require a permit and permission to place and go through a similar review process of an Eathcache, but the scope would be a bit more broad.

 

What would be the logging requirements? :unsure:

 

I will admit, I have no idea. I don't have a full proposal since I doubt Groundspeak would do anything. I just worry about too many people going off trail at a National Park to find a pill bottle.

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This is where I would propose a new type of "virtual" cache. I have no idea what to call it, but it would be a cross between Earthcaches and Virtuals.. It would require a permit and permission to place and go through a similar review process of an Eathcache, but the scope would be a bit more broad.

 

What would be the logging requirements? :unsure:

 

This seems to be turning into a "bring back virtuals" thread with the obligatory "virtual caches are not on Waymarking.com" post. Let's not lose sight of the fact that the U.S. National Parks may be opening up an opportunity to have physical geocaches placed in National Parks. Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing more of a discussion on how we can make physical caches more palatable by National Parks.

 

For example: Currently there is a guideline which does not allow a cache which requires employee interaction to obtain the cache. All it would take is a relaxing of that guideline (simply by allowing reviewers to allow an exemption at national parks) to create a multi cache with several "answer to a question" waypoints,at various highlighted locations in the park (which probably have signs describing an interesting feature) that when brought back to the visitor center a caretaker of the cache would hand it over so that the log could be signed. It would have no more impact than there already is by everyday muggle visitors and the park would have complete control of the container.

 

 

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For example: Currently there is a guideline which does not allow a cache which requires employee interaction to obtain the cache.

 

Except when an employee is required to hand you the ammo can such as I just logged at a hotel cache outside Las Vegas.

I just visited 8 National Parks and a conservation area in NV, UT, CO & NM and really enjoyed the caching in the parks I could squeeze in. Nothing wrong with earth caches but I'd personally prefer physical ones.

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This is where I would propose a new type of "virtual" cache. I have no idea what to call it, but it would be a cross between Earthcaches and Virtuals.. It would require a permit and permission to place and go through a similar review process of an Eathcache, but the scope would be a bit more broad.

 

What would be the logging requirements? :unsure:

 

I think these "General Education caches" would encourage learning something at the designated location like with Earthcaches and demonstrating that learning plus some proof of being at the location. This is pretty similar to Earthcaches today. History caches could fall under this umbrella. Endangered species education could be another area. Botany is another area to learn things.

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This is where I would propose a new type of "virtual" cache. I have no idea what to call it, but it would be a cross between Earthcaches and Virtuals.. It would require a permit and permission to place and go through a similar review process of an Eathcache, but the scope would be a bit more broad.

 

What would be the logging requirements? :unsure:

 

I think these "General Education caches" would encourage learning something at the designated location like with Earthcaches and demonstrating that learning plus some proof of being at the location. This is pretty similar to Earthcaches today. History caches could fall under this umbrella. Endangered species education could be another area. Botany is another area to learn things.

 

Learning is great, and don't take this wrong, but I'm more interested in actual physical geocaches that don't require contacting a CO with a logging task. I just don't see geocaching having educational value, it's more like Pokemon GO and just something for fun.

 

I have seen what geocaching can do for tourism, and I would not visit a Park just for a new virtual, but I would for a physical geocache. :)

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Here's a link to the NSW National Parks geocaching policy, which allows physical caches subject to a number of conditions and written approval in each case. Virtual waypoints and Earthcaches don't require explicit approval but must be appropriately located. The policy resulted from years of negotiations between the National Parks and Wildlife Service, which originally banned all caches outright, and Geocaching NSW.

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Im with rragan! It would be great to get some kind of caching into national parks! Obviously I would like a traditional there (that wouldn't hurt the environment) Not sure how that could be enforced but would be great.

 

Before we got involved in caching I would take my daughter to national parks but after we got involved in caching I don't have a desire to go to them because we enjoy this hobby. We for one would definitely be going to some if there were caches to find there. I also am not that into doing earth caches. So a traditional to find would be great or some kind of virtual that was easy to log. Just to prove we were there but not so involved I have to do homework to log it.

 

This is a idea I think is worth looking into so we can make national parks part of our game as well.

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For example: Currently there is a guideline which does not allow a cache which requires employee interaction to obtain the cache.

 

Except when an employee is required to hand you the ammo can such as I just logged at a hotel cache outside Las Vegas.

 

That's an example of a reviewer relaxing the guideline. I've also found a cache where a hotel employee at the concierge desk handed me the cache. It was originally hidden just outside the hotel but it was muggled several times so the CO worked with the hotel to allow it to be kept inside. At the time, there were very few caches in the entire country and allowed those visiting the country for the first time to pick up a find. If that's what it takes to allow a physical cache in a National Park I'm all for it.

 

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This is where I would propose a new type of "virtual" cache. I have no idea what to call it, but it would be a cross between Earthcaches and Virtuals.. It would require a permit and permission to place and go through a similar review process of an Eathcache, but the scope would be a bit more broad.

 

What would be the logging requirements? :unsure:

 

I think these "General Education caches" would encourage learning something at the designated location like with Earthcaches and demonstrating that learning plus some proof of being at the location. This is pretty similar to Earthcaches today. History caches could fall under this umbrella. Endangered species education could be another area. Botany is another area to learn things.

 

Learning is great, and don't take this wrong, but I'm more interested in actual physical geocaches that don't require contacting a CO with a logging task. I just don't see geocaching having educational value, it's more like Pokemon GO and just something for fun.

 

I have seen what geocaching can do for tourism, and I would not visit a Park just for a new virtual, but I would for a physical geocache. :)

 

I can't think of any national parks I would *not* visit, because it didn't have a cache in it. Geocaching can add to the experience of visiting a national park and that is the message that we need to convey to national parks.

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Posted (edited)

I can't think of any national parks I would *not* visit, because it didn't have a cache in it. Geocaching can add to the experience of visiting a national park and that is the message that we need to convey to national parks.

 

I just returned from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. The virtuals and earthcaches we found added to our experience and some brought us to locations we would not have otherwise seen. There is one physical container in the park that seemed to be grandfathered from the old days. We did not seek it out, but if anything it convinced me why I would not want to see containers placed in many of the park areas where virtuals have taken us. Although this cache seems to be in good shape the CO is long gone. I realize that there may be ways, such as partnership with the NPS or permit systems, to avoid proliferation of containers that will not be maintained or end up abandoned, but many of the locations that virtuals have taken us within national parks would not be appropriate for physical containers.

 

As of now, park managers have discretion to allow for caches, but in many areas it is an uphill battle. The NPS is the major land manager where I live. Years ago they removed most of the physical containers (including some letterboxes) from the park. While they have been supportive of earthcaches, a superintendent told me that physical caches are litter that will never be approved under his watch. There have been a few caches placed in more urban areas in the neighboring NPS jurisdiction by the park trust, but it has not led to any trend towards physical caches or changes in policy at either location.

 

I hace never agreed with the argument that virtuals give land managers a way to negate physical containers. In some parks, positive experience with virtuals (earthcaches) have led to approval of physical caches. Land managers can point to virtual alternatives as it is, and they can make distinctions between areas that might be suitable for containers and those that are not.

 

California state parks have allowed physical caches within three feet of designated trails but distinguished between areas where containers can be placed and those where virtuals only are allowed. It's an important distinction. While there are areas where a physical container might be appropriate, I would not want to see containers left in many locations within our national parks - from those with delicate geology or biology to archaeological sites or true wilderness. I would not want to see containers that wind up abandoned or are not suited for the environment. But I am always grateful when virtuals take me to locations that I would not have seen within a park or allow this game to be part of our experience.

Edited by geodarts
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This article goes into more detail specifically for Pokemon Go.

https://journeyguyblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/08/gentle-giants/

Is there another link? The one you provided goes to your personal blog. I don't see anything about Pokemon or National Parks there.

 

Sorry. Copy/paste fail. Here is the link.

 

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/07/pokemon-go-national-parks-level-up/

 

You're tracking that this article is a year old, right?

 

PUBLISHED July 15, 2016

 

The emphasis is on Pokemon Go because that was the fad last summer. While individual parks are allowing physical caches, the NPS hasn't changed its overall policy on geocaching -- otherwise Below the Dam would finally be activated again.

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Geocaching can add to the experience of visiting a national park and that is the message that we need to convey to national parks.

 

Sorry, but from my experience with geocaching on a State Park level I can not agree the geocaching is feasible in our National Parks. I have seen too many negative impacts from geocaching. One really nice big geocache at a Ranger Station or Park HQ may be feasable, but I don't want to see our Narional Parks littered with geocaches maintained by the throwdown community.

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Posted (edited)

Currently, physical caches are being allowed by National Parks. The fastest way to shut down this easing of past restrictions on physical caches in US National park would be to bring back a virtual option. The NPS is even supporting its ownGeoTour.

 

NPS policy has long entrusted location-based games to the discretion of park officials, but it should be acknowledged that support for physical containers is very limited. While it is good to see that the NPS is supporting a geotour (which includes some state and regional parks), there are 25 earthcaches on the tour, often found in parks that have not permitted any physical caches. Still, I hope the tour, the NPS partnership with earthcaching, NPS sponsored caching, and other programs can have a positive impact.

 

But is a "virtual option" the fastest way of shutting down physical caches? As the tour and NPS policy make clear, there is currently a virtual option - earthcaches - not to mention waymarks and listings on other sites. At least three of the caches on the tour (Arabia Mountain) were placed when virtual caches were permitted. Physical caches were allowed in at least one of the parks on the list after successful earthcaches helped convince park officials to approve them. And the NPS officials in my area had no problem removing all physical caches even after virtuals were no longer an option.

 

By the same reasoning, that most of the physical caches on the tour were placed by park staff might be even a faster way to shut down other caches. So I think there are two different considerations that cannot really be compared.

 

While I am glad that the Everglades in your area has a "park employee for a day" series that sounds fun for kids, the highlight of my trip there was the Ed Watson virtual - which I probably would not have known about except for this game - and there does not appear to be any physical equivalent in the park. (Somehow, neither the earthcaches or the virtuals in the park were used to block NPS staff from placing the park employee series.)

 

I do not see the geotour as showing a trend toward approving physical caches, at least in the parks that I have visited and in my local area. It simply shows that there are some areas in a few parks that might be appropriate for physical containers, and others not.

 

I do not want to see a physical cache placed on top of Half Dome, but I am glad there is a virtual there even if it is increasingly likely that I will never do it. I do not want to see physical caches placed in the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon hoodoos, most areas of Yellowstone, the Olympic seashore, and any number of places in national parks where virtuals were listed and a few remain. Placing physical containers off trail in parks with fragile ecosystems (like the cryptobiotic crusts of desert soil in Joshua Tree) would be a problem. The ruins at Mesa Verde, the Canyonlands, and other archeological sites are not appropriate for physical caching but would make outstanding virtuals. Working with the NPS to develop new virtuals in the parks - similar to earthcaches - in places where that is the most appropriate form of caching would seemingly advance this game and actually encourage placement of physical caches in other locations. As the geotour demonstrates, park officials are very capable of making such distinctions.

 

While I do not need caching to bring me to National Parks or Monuments, the virtuals there have brought me to places that I never otherwise would have seen and expanded my experience as a cacher. Would I have visited the Toroweap Overlook at the Grand Canyon - 60 miles from the nearest polygamist -- without the virtual? Perhaps. Perhaps not. It was an encouragement. But I would be surprised if a physical container would ever be approved there.

Edited by geodarts
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Currently, physical caches are being allowed by National Parks. The fastest way to shut down this easing of past restrictions on physical caches in US National park would be to bring back a virtual option. The NPS is even supporting its own GeoTour.

For the record, many of the parks on that geo tour aren't NPS property. Arabia Mountain may be part of a "National Heritage Area," but the NPS plays only an advisory role in NHAs; the caches are actually located in a Dekalb County nature preserve. I see some other caches are located in Virginia state parks, like Kiptopeke. But yes, there are NPS properties on there as well, and some do actually sport physical caches, not just earthcaches and virtuals.

 

The National Park Service also runs the Captain John Smith geotrail, though that one seems to have taken a back seat to the Find Your Park one.

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I think the boat has long sailed on putting new virtuals in the national parks, even though I also think it would be a good idea. After spending a week last month hiking around many of the Utah national parks, I Would agree there are a lot of places that a physical cache would not be appropriate.

 

Is it possible that we could convince the park staff to allow a bunch of locked ammo cans to be set up near to or inside the visitor center. This would require an exception to the 0.1 mi spacing rule, but if we're discussing allowing virtuals, a spacing exception is probably more realistic. Each ammo can would be clearly labeled as a specific cache, which would involve a hike to some virtual location within the park. At the hike location there would be an existing sign or something else, that would allow the cacher to determine the code for the caches lock.

 

You could also put the ammo can at the trail head, near the parking lot, but that's moving closer to an area where it could be argued that geocachers will cause damage to the area.

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