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Cache-tech

Parks Ontario

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Something you may wan't to look into as a potential backer when talking to gov. about parks and geocaches, is how Samuel de Champlain park in Mattawa deals with caches. http://www.ontarioparks.com/english/samu.html

The park is host to the Canadian Ecology Centre, and they use caches in their programs to teach GPS, and nature topics.

 

Since this is pretty much in my back yard, I'd be willing to do some initial contacting, and leg work.

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Samuel de Champlain park in Mattawa recently asked the Canadian Ecology Center to remove all of their caches from their park resulting in about 6 to 10 caches placed by the CEC to be archived. I have been working with the CEC and their caches since they started to list CEC caches on GC.com in August. My last email with Parks Ontario was regarding the CEC caches and if I was aware of them.

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The offer of leg work etc. still stands... It's unfortunate that they were asked to remove them. It was a progressive approach to using the park.

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Since you said that they recent asked the CEC to remove 6 to 10 caches from the park, was there a reason given?

 

As in, do they feel the geocaching has a negative impact on the terrain and ecology of the park.

 

Or is it because there currently is no guidelines or regulations concerning geocaches that they felt it was safer to just ask them to be removed until policies were written to cover geocaching?

 

<_< The Blue Quasar

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Since you said that they recent asked the CEC to remove 6 to 10 caches from the park, was there a reason given?

 

As in, do they feel the geocaching has a negative impact on the terrain and ecology of the park.

 

Or is it because there currently is no guidelines or regulations concerning geocaches that they felt it was safer to just ask them to be removed until policies were written to cover geocaching?

 

<_< The Blue Quasar

There was no reason given, the request was from the individual park as head office has stated they would not be seeking the removal of current caches. Therefore, while dealing with head office, we (the warden at Parks Ontario I am working with and myself) did not know the caches were requested to be removed. I was informed by a local cacher about the removal and have not been contact with the Park in question.

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While working with Parks Ontario, I have been given this mapping site to determine if a cache has been placed within Parks Ontario or not. There are a few problems with it, but if you are looking at an area that you are considering placing a cache you can check with this site. I wanted to ensure I could give out the URL first.

 

Claimaps

 

When you agree to the disclaimer, it will launch a second window with a map of Ontario. On the left menu you will see a red circle with an arrow and X Y below the arrow on a button, third from the bottom. This will allow you to enter coordinates in Deg.decimaldegree, deg min sec or UTM. I go to the "Edit this cache", change the coords to deg.decimaldeg and copy the coordinates, you must use a - for the longitude coordinates. Once you are zoomed into approx 6km from the scale on the bottom right on the map, your right hand column will change, these are the layers. Federal Lands and Parks are Purple, unchecking Parks and Refresh Map, if the Purple disappears, the park is Provincial. Unchecking Federal Lands, click Refresh Map and the Purple disappears, the park is Federal. I have been recently informed that some Conservations AREAs and future Parks Ontario Parks and Reserves may be already indicated as Parks on this map. I also check with the Parks Ontario website, mapquest, Yahoo Maps, Microsoft MapPoint and a Parks Ontario Map pinned to my wall I purchased to determine if a cache is within a provincial park or reserve and will error on the side of caution at this time. If you place a cache that is not a Provincial Park or Reserve, I will then have to determine the location by other means. I hope everyone will bear with us as we work towards a policy, I know it has been a really slow process. If you have any questions on the claimaps link above, please email me through my profile and I will see what I can do. Thank you.

Edited by cache-tech

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:rolleyes: With the rapid approach of spring and the upcoming CITO events being organized across Ontario I was wondering how any discussions with Parks Ontario have progressed.

 

I realize that they have many on-going issues to look into but I still have difficulty in accepting the "No new cache approval" idea.

 

Do they have a timeline in place? Do they wish to meet with our side? If so, when? Why do they feel Geocaching has more liability than any other use of their parks? What prevention steps need to be in place to allow us access to their parks for geocaching?

 

I understand that they have the final say over the use of their lands, and we must abide by their decision. But currently we have not seen any supporting reasons for their decision or an official release to detail their concerns.

 

I think it is reasonable to have this matter dealt with in an efficient manner and a decision should be made before the assumed "geocache season" for 2004 begins.

 

The parks, and it's just my perspective, must be planning their goals and such for 2004 now. We should be working with them now so things are ready for the warmer weather.

 

Cache-Tech.... how can we as geocachers, OGA, or yourself get talks started? They seem to have stalled ever since they closed the door to us.

 

:blink: The Blue Quasar

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There is no news, I do feel your frustration though. Has anyone attempted to orginize a CITO at a Parks Ontario location yet?

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While at the Toronto Sportsman Show, I talked with the parks people at thier booth/display. In fact, one was a superintendent, about geocaching in parks. Summarized from a 30 minute discussion this is parks attitude about geocaching.

1 - Purposely leaving something behind constitutes littering and won't be tolerated.

2 - One of the Parks employees said he had been to the web site, read the hint for a number of caches that instructed the finder to dig, digging in the parks will not be tolerated.

3 - Hiding or finding a cache requires a person to leave the designated trail damaging the natural plant growth, this will not be tolerated.

4 - In the past, caches have been hidden in ecologically sensitive areas and the parks staff had to remove them.

5 - Also in the past, people have ventured off the trail and come into contact with poison ivy and other skin irritants, these same people then complained to the parks staff that there was not sufficient warning posted of the dangers once you leave the trail.

Before the discussion ended, there were 3 parks employees and myself discussing this topic. It appeared to me that all of them were well prepared for this question, all of them were very aware of geocaching, all of them quoted the same official reasoning. They had all read the same memo. I got the feeling that there is discussion in the board rooms about geocaching, perhaps some day they will share with us the plans for the future.

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I wish I could have been able to attend and spoken with them as I have not heard anything at all lately. We could have answered their questions.

 

1 - Purposely leaving something behind constitutes littering and won't be tolerated.

 

Caches are maintained, if it is abandonded, I insure it is picked up by a volunteer and hope to be able to do this through OGA.

 

2 - One of the Parks employees said he had been to the web site, read the hint for a number of caches that instructed the finder to dig, digging in the parks will not be tolerated.

 

The guidelines states caches should never be buried and these caches are not approved. If a cache is discoved to be buried, it is promptly archived. I have only had 1 cache reported to be s buried and I promptly archived the cache and contacted the owner. When submitted, I review all text and if there is an indication it is buried, it is never approved. I have never approved or found, out of 1000+ caches that I have reviewed that it was buried. This is a very strict guideline.

 

3 - Hiding or finding a cache requires a person to leave the designated trail damaging the natural plant growth, this will not be tolerated.

 

We are willing to work within any guidelines they are willing to set out, hiding and finding a cache does not necessiarly mean having to leave the designated trail. It is also required to ensure the caches are not causing damage and if they are will be promptly removed.

 

4 - In the past, caches have been hidden in ecologically sensitive areas and the parks staff had to remove them.

 

We are more then willing to work with the parks staff to keep caches out of ecologically sensitive locations and will have caches removed if and when requested. If the locations are know before hand, will never be placed and approved, I can insure this.

 

5 - Also in the past, people have ventured off the trail and come into contact with poison ivy and other skin irritants, these same people then complained to the parks staff that there was not sufficient warning posted of the dangers once you leave the trail.

 

I think this one is not limited to Geocachers, I for one have never complained about contacting poison ivy and I think I found it a few times last year.

 

Thank you for the information from the show today, I will know more what to expect when I am in contact with them again. I was to meet the park superintendent today at one of the parks, but the meeting fell through, I will be rescheduling.

Edited by cache-tech

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One can easily see why Ontario Parks is not allowing geocaching within their properties. The above statements certainly show valid concerns and based upon what they have seen, if I was in their place I wouldn't allow it to continue either. I refer to the hint statements of digging.

 

Wording is everything, and the slightest suggestion of inappropriate action would cause a negative response. Cachers MUST consider the wording they use when submitting a cache description.

 

I think there are few key points that should be addressed, and Ontario Parks statements at the Sportsman's Show show this to be true.

 

1 - Purposely leaving something behind constitutes littering and won't be tolerated.

 

Naturally, and this is why cachers are REQUIRED to obtain permission to hide a cache. This is why there HAS to be a registration of caches with the park superintendent.

 

Cache Tech has covered off the rest of their concerns in the above message, but this makes it all the more important to work with Ontario Parks to develop positive caching policies. And it appears we have to recover from a slightly negative position as there is already a perception about geocaching and geocachers in particular.

 

Hopefully there has just been a misunderstanding and communication was not properly initiated on both sides. Let's hope that we can re-establish a new connection with Ontario Parks that will allow us to enjoy their lands like other groups do.

 

:blink: The Blue Quasar

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Thanks for the will written report on your talks with the parks staff at the show.

 

It seems that they have all ready made up there minds about geocaching and are just not releasing the there final answer.

 

Maybe the OGA should look outside the box and see if they could find someone who has experience dealing with the Government and start to get more vocal and we need to stop talking and have more action.

 

I got the feeling that there is discussion in the board rooms about geocaching, perhaps some day they will share with us the plans for the future.

 

After reading the above I now know my my b*** hurts, from the door being slammed against it.

 

:blink:

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I just happened to be looking at Algonquin caches last night and noticed This Log. Given the date and the depth of snow mentioned, I don't think this type of digging would be harmful. I wonder if this was what they were referring to, with the "digging" comment.

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It was very frustrating to try to convince these few parks people that proper geocaching does not and will not harm the parks. Large tour groups and irresponsible campers can trash an area in less than a weekend and that each cache will probably see on average less than 24 visits per year. But perhaps these staff members that were at the show are not indicative of the entire parks organization. You are right that actions do speak louder than words, that is why strong showings for events such as CITO are important, involvement in other community events that are oriented towards the environment should have representation by geocachers. Think of this as a hearts and minds campaign, winning one parks employee at a time, one park at a time. I remember when Ducks Unlimited was a fringe group, followed by mountain bikes. Patience, positive environmental action, persistence in forwarding any negotiations and perhaps some comprimise, future geocaching in provincial parks will be different from what we enjoy now, perhaps another evolution of the sport. Not only those who have taken on the task of negotiations with the parks, our actions and deeds will speak for us, what is it you want to say?

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winning one parks employee at a time, one park at a time.

 

I don't think this approach is good, but yes having some onside would help.

 

We need to go to the top and get a firm action from the top so all parks have the same guidelines all over the province and not a mish mash of rules.

 

It appeared to me that all of them were well prepared for this question, all of them were very aware of geocaching, all of them quoted the same official reasoning. They had all read the same memo

 

We must remember this is Government and the parks workers are employees and can not make policy but only enforce the rules inplace at any given time.

 

In saying this I think the so called OGA should not concentrate on the local parks but finish what was started here and then use Ontario Parks decision as the bench mark when dealing with all others in the province. If it goes against what we feel as cachers what we can do in the parks so it be. At least we did our best.

 

Purposely leaving something behind constitutes littering and won't be tolerated.

 

This is one of the rules for using a park and most are big on the leave no trace. When most caches left in the parks are vacation caches and you can't even find the placer now as they have come and gone and the approval process was not as good before it is hard to argue there point.

 

:D

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While this is the Ontario Parks forum area, there are reasons to mention the local CA's in this thread.

 

First off, the local conservation authorities have shown interest in working with caching groups, specifically the OGA to develop geocache policies. This opportunity has yet to present itself with respect to Ontario Parks.

 

I firmly agree that ONE policy is the desired outcome for all of Ontario. And this may be a lofty goal but perhaps after all of the policies are in place then we ca ncombine them all for province wide ratification.

 

The OGA is just beginning the process of contacting the various CA's across some areas of Ontario. This will take time for numerous reasons, such as CA's time availability, the OGA's reps in those areas and of course compilation of information.

 

This is also a reason why the OGA was set up with regional management since it is very unlikely that one person or a small group could cover all of Ontario. As cachers, most of us have occupations and geocaching is a hobby. To expect any individual to devote the number of man hours to talking to every group is unrealistic.

 

Secondly, while there may be the perception that there is a hierarchy to the parks in Ontario, that simply is not the case.

 

Ontario Parks has lands, local Conservation Authorities have lands, and regional and municipal territories have their lands. From what I have learned, one group does not answer to another and there is no central governing body for all parks in Ontario that theses groups ultimately answer to.

 

So, to say that we should focus on Ontario Park first has not been effective. Several Conservation Authorities (Hamilton, Niagara, Otonabee, and others) have contacted local cachers or have been approached. All have shown a desire to meet and work out geocaching policies. That is a positive first step and that is the direction that the OGA will take.

 

So, I am quite content to let Cache-Tech continue to be the spokesperson to Ontario Parks for geocaching.com and the OGA will develop a working relationship with the various local Conservation Authorities.

 

However, the OGA needs time to develop and get all the ideas in place, and time to work with CA's. No need to rush into too many meeting and get over our heads, or else the situation we are in with Ontario Parks may spread to other levels of land owners.

 

:D The Blue Quasar

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www.geocachingontario.com has sent letters to the Minister, David Ramsay, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, Gord Miller, (who is a "geocacher"), and to the specific MNR officials working on policy or guidelines for Ontario Parks.

 

No Park Superintendent will allow caches in their parks and they are awaiting the above.

 

We have suggested "virtual" caches because there are enough signs and plaques to attachem clues.

 

At the same time you may wish to venture north to find our caches - www.geocachingontario.com is a tourism application of "geocaching." It will be featured in Todays Cacher.

 

:bad:

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I was at the Kawartha Outdoor show today & asked the Ontario Parks staff if they knew when the policy on geocaching would be formalized. One of the staff had read a draft policy some time ago & thought that the final policy should be coming out soon. He also thought geocaching was a good way to bring people to the parks - that's one for us!

 

-Donna G

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I was at the Kawartha Outdoor show today & asked the Ontario Parks staff if they knew when the policy on geocaching would be formalized. One of the staff had read a draft policy some time ago & thought that the final policy should be coming out soon. He also thought geocaching was a good way to bring people to the parks - that's one for us!

 

-Donna G

This sounds promising, I have also visited an outdoors show where Parks Ontario had a booth recently. They did not hear of a policy in the works, but were aware of Geocaching and were shown a map displaying current caches within the parks at a meeting between parks in the region. We also spoke about the caches within their park, the locations and about some of the logs on the caches. They sounded promising as well as we discussed the concerns we each had in regards to Geocaching and a policy, they were not against caching and thought it sounded like a fun activity.

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I noticed on your profile that caches are banned from SEPAQ parks in Quebec. Is there any policy on the way or discussion or is this final?

 

Alex

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Yikes, I just placed a cache at Ken Reid Conservation Area, I'm guessing it won't be approved.  Bummer.

 

<_< This shouldn't cause any approval problems. Ken Reid Conservation area is managed by Kawartha Conservation, NOT Parks Ontario. There was a previous cache in the park (as you know... you found it!), and this cache caused no problems at all. After the cache was pillaged, I cleaned up the area (like a good geocacher should).

 

Good luck with your cache approval. I look forward to hunting it next time I'm in the Fenelon Falls area.

 

-TT-

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Just incase anyone hasn't heard yet.....

 

Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) has finished developing Geocaching policies for all of the lands that fall under their jurisdiction.

 

I will be taking these policies to the Niagara Penisula Conservation Authority as soon as I can confirm a meeting with the NPCA contact.

 

This plan follows the OGA's initial plan to provide a set of policies for geocaching that can be standardized across the Province of Ontario.

 

Should the time come that the OGA, Cache-Tech and Ontario Parks be able to meet to discuss geocaching policies and practices within Parks that Ontario Parks was control of, these established policies will aid in the implementation of a universal accepted policy for all Geocachers in any park managed by the Province, or Municipality or City, and including any Conservation Authority.

 

Should anyone wish a copy of the policies and the application form to place a geocache within HCA lands please contact the following

 

** Please forward any questions or concerns regarding geocaching activities on HCA lands to the Hamilton Conservation Authority, Land Management Division, P.O. Box 7099, 838 Mineral Springs Rd., Ancaster, Ontario L9G 3L3, 905 525-2181 or nature@conservationhamilton.ca **

 

I have copies as well, however it is best that those interested in placing caches contact the HCA directly.

 

;) The Blue Quasar

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Thank you to GM100Guy for posting the link to the Ministry of Natural Resource's Survey.

 

Should you have trouble accessing the Survey or receive the "You are not permitted to view this page" message, I would suggest returning to the first page of the Survey and sending an Email to request a mailed copy.

 

Survey for Ontario Parks - As posted by GM100Guy

 

The contact page for the Ministry of Natural Resources can be found at

 

MNR Contact page

 

<_< The Blue Quasar

Administrator of the Ontario Geocaching Association

OGA

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It's been 4 months since the last post here, and I was wondering if there had been any more progress made either with Parks Ontario (cache-teck) or with the Conservation Authorities (The Blue Quasar)?

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It's been 4 months since the last post here, and I was wondering if there had been any more progress made either with Parks Ontario (cache-tech) or with the Conservation Authorities (The Blue Quasar)?

Sorry, I have no update at this time.

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Hamilton Conservation Authority has a permit policy for Geocaches.

 

The OGA rep for Hamilton "The Daniel Boone Gang" contacted every cache owner that has a cache within an HCA park and got the required forms completed.

 

The Daniel Boone Gang has sent those forms to the HCA contact person. We have not heard anything either way.

 

As for Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, they were rather laid back about the whole thing. We were told many months ago that it was just a formality and they would talk about it in their upcoming meeting. They were really happy about Geocaching in general and even came out to our CITO event. Nothing ever was said to us after that and again we have not heard anything either way.

 

As for Ontario Parks, I had last heard a rumour that they have a Geocaching Policy ready, or nearly ready, but they have not said anything at all to us.

 

I know we have tried to contact these groups repeatedly and don't want to be an annoyance so we decided to take a 'wait and see if they come to us' approach. It is my feeling that the HCA and NPCA are happy to have us caching, and OP is being careful in drafting a policy that affects hundreds of parks and thousands of hectares of land.

 

At this point, we don't know if we should begin to expand into other Conservation Authorities or not. We'd like to but it's hard to keep going in saying "Well we talked to HCA and NPCA and they like us but we don't actually have a firm agreement with them"

 

Currently Amazon Annie is going to try to physically visit both the HCA and NPCA to see what the current conditions are and hopefully get a firm commitment from them to agree to the same guidelines and policies for Geocaching.

 

OGA Admin

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Thought I could provide some additional insight into this issue, as it sounds like the same type of issues my bike club has had for the past 5 years. My mountain biking club, Caledon Cycling Club, has been fighting and negotiating for access rights to trails on conservation land for some time. In particular, they have been working with the Bruce Trail land owners and various Ontario conservation centres. Agree or disagree, many people hold unproven ideas that mountain bikers cause enormous damage to the environment, and so the uphill battle began.

 

Through the work of various key people on our club executive (one of whom works for a regional municipality), we have maintained access to 80% of the trails that we once had.

They found that 3 strategies provided the most effective means of negotiating with conservation managers and land owners.

 

1. Ensure that you minimize the fears of liability to the land owners. These days, liability (and the new generation of lawyers who spread this fear) is of major concern. You must prove that it is not an issue, or that your organization has 3rd party liability coverage for its members, or that your organization is self-disciplined with strict policies.

 

2. Show that you have political clout. Nothing gets the attention of government conservation centres more than a long list of club members that live in the local area and pay for the use of the facilities.

 

3. Prove that promoting the recreational activity (ie. Geocaching) will INCREASE revenues for the conservation centre. Many of Ontario’s conservation centres are poor in cash and could be swayed with ideas that will help them generate more income. Most of these centres (and also provincial parks) have to balance their own budgets with self-generated income.

 

You guys are right about how these parks and centres operate. There is really no central management group, as each park or conservation centre has a lot of management autonomy of their own, and sets their own policies. You have to approach these parks one at a time. Sometimes each park has conflicting or rhetorical policies. For this one conservation centre, Palgrave, we got approval to cut some new trail as long as a professional botanist supervised and reviewed our locations for environmental impact. One year later, some heavy machinery crashed and slashed through the forest, doing selective forestry, and destroying our trail in the process. Argggggg! Another conservation centre just down the road, called Albion Hills, has new trails cut for mountain biking all the time, hosts two 24 hour races on these trails of 600 participants, holds 2 adventure races, and does a ton of school trip classes. Go figure….

 

Cache-tech, I would stop restricting caches on Ontario conservation land until you specifically get complaints from a specific conservation centre. For sure, there is no central authority for these centres. Provincial parks have more central authority, but again, they have their own management policies on many issues. I think the public at large would have a poor image of people hiding objects all over provincial parks (not me of course).

Still, don’t withdraw cache approvals as a blanket policy.

 

That’s my $0.02.

 

Rick.

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Cache-tech, I would stop restricting caches on Ontario conservation land until you specifically get complaints from a specific conservation centre. For sure, there is no central authority for these centres. Provincial parks have more central authority, but again, they have their own management policies on many issues. I think the public at large would have a poor image of people hiding objects all over provincial parks (not me of course).

Still, don’t withdraw cache approvals as a blanket policy.

Only caches in Ontario Parks managed areas have been refused for new placements.

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Ontario Parks have provided the new policy that was to be in effect as of April 15, 2005 until April 15, 2006. This policy was mailed (snail mail) to me, I wanted to speak to Ontario Parks and try to set up another meeting with Ontario Parks and request an electronic form of the policy. I will say I am disappointed with this policy as it was formed without any of the information provided by myself and cachers in this thread or including Geocachers in the drafting in the end.

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Subject:

Virtual Geocaching in Provincial Parks

Procedure No

11.03.04 New 1

Compiled by – Branch

Ontario Parks Section

Planning &

Research Date Issued

April 15, 2005

Replaces Directive Title

Number

Dated

Page

1 of 3

 

 

Purpose: To provide procedural direction for the activity of geocaching in provincial parks.

 

Definitions: Geocaching is defined as an outdoor activity in which participants use a global positioning system (GPS) to find a predetermined location or ‘cache’. Participating in a cache hunt is an activity designed to take advantage of the features and capability of a GPS unit while enjoying the freedom of access to public lands.

 

Caches themselves can be defined as either physical or virtual. A ‘physical cache’ is a container that holds a log book and small rewards (e.g. key chains, pins, coins, etc.) that is placed at a specified location for the participant to find. The visitor is asked to log their visit to the cache site and to leave or replace items that they find in the cache.

 

In place of a ‘physical cache’, participants may choose to use a ‘virtual cache’. A ‘virtual cache’ by definition, is a cache that exists as an object, which was already there, at a specific location (e.g. obvious tree, rock formation, building or structure etc.). Typically, the cache owner creates a virtual cache where physical caches are not permitted or cannot be appropriately maintained. Virtual caches are usually novel, of interest to others who geocache, and have a special historic, community or geocaching quality that sets it apart from everyday objects. The reward for these caches tends to be the location itself and sharing information about one’s visit.

 

Virtual geocaching is considered to be consistent with the goal and objectives of the provincial parks system and therefore may be an acceptable activity in provincial parks subject to certain conditions.

 

Management of geocaching is necessary due to public safety and liability issues as well as the potential to negatively impact provincial park natural and cultural heritage features.

 

Responsibility

Steps/Actions

 

Park Superintendent

Receives request for geocaching in a provincial park. Reviews request to determine if appropriate for the park, giving consideration to the following guidance:

 

• Virtual geocaches may be authorized in provincial parks, with the exception of nature reserve class parks or nature reserve zones in other classes of park, and historic class parks or historic zones in other classes of park.

• Virtual geocaches are not permitted in areas protecting cultural heritage features or species at risk.

• Physical geocaches of any kind will not be authorized in a provincial park.

 

If determined to be appropriate, considers site specific factors to determine whether to allow and, if so, a suitable location of a virtual geocache in the individual park. These include, but are not limited to the following factors:

 

1. Virtual geocache locations may be considered in park access and development zones as well as other park zones (except nature reserve and historic). Locations must be selected to minimize impact to natural and cultural features (i.e., stay on authorized trails at all times, avoid sacred/sensitive cultural sites and sensitive locations of species at risk).

2. The virtual geocache location and access route must be safe for participants.

3. The proposed location of a virtual cache should not conflict with any other permitted uses (e.g. campsites, land use permits or lease areas).

4. Considers the applicant’s request in the context of the total number and distribution of virtual geocaches that exist or may be appropriate for the provincial park.

 

If determined to be appropriate following consideration of site specific factors, authorizes the virtual geocache locations for a trial period of up to one year from the date of the procedure, using the Ontario Parks Virtual Geocache Contract (copy attached).

 

Applicant Once approved for placement, an external virtual geocache website posting must be made and include the following information:

 

• Identification as an authorized virtual geocache located within a provincial park.

• Visitors/geocachers are required to pay any applicable entry fee that may apply.

• It is the visitor’s responsibility to aquaint themselves with policies and rules pertaining to the park.

 

Violation of any of these requirements may necessitate the revoking of the authorization by the park superintendent. Further, a park superintendent may revoke an approved virtual geocache if a park feature or value is at risk of being negatively impacted or if public safety or enjoyment is in any way compromised.

 

Park Superintendent

Reviews requests for renewals and determines appropriateness of the request.

 

Amends contract.

 

Advises owners of existing unauthorized virtual geocaches that they are required to apply for authorization, using the attached contract, within one year of the implementation of this procedure.

 

Park Superintendent

Advises owners of existing physical geocaches that they must remove their caches within one year of implementation of this procedure.

 

After one year of implementation of this procedure, removes all remaining physical geocaches.

 

Once a virtual geocache is approved, sends a copy of the contract to the appropriate zone office as well as a copy to Planning and Research Section.

 

Planning and Research Section

Maintains a database and an associated map layer for all approved geocaches.

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As the policy indicates, only virtual caches will be accepted by Ontario Parks. For now, I will not be accepting any virtual cache submissions until we can meet with Ontario Parks and discuss this proceedure/policy.

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Park Superintendent

Receives request for geocaching in a provincial park. Reviews request to determine if appropriate for the park, giving consideration to the following guidance:

 

• Virtual geocaches may be authorized in provincial parks, with the exception of nature reserve class parks or nature reserve zones in other classes of park, and historic class parks or historic zones in other classes of park.

• Virtual geocaches are not permitted in areas protecting cultural heritage features or species at risk.

• Physical geocaches of any kind will not be authorized in a provincial park.

 

If determined to be appropriate, considers site specific factors to determine whether to allow and, if so, a suitable location of a virtual geocache in the individual park. These include, but are not limited to the following factors:

 

1. Virtual geocache locations may be considered in park access and development zones as well as other park zones (except nature reserve and historic). Locations must be selected to minimize impact to natural and cultural features (i.e., stay on authorized trails at all times, avoid sacred/sensitive cultural sites and sensitive locations of species at risk).

2. The virtual geocache location and access route must be safe for participants.

3. The proposed location of a virtual cache should not conflict with any other permitted uses (e.g. campsites, land use permits or lease areas).

4. Considers the applicant’s request in the context of the total number and distribution of virtual geocaches that exist or may be appropriate for the provincial park.

 

If determined to be appropriate following consideration of site specific factors, authorizes the virtual geocache locations for a trial period of up to one year from the date of the procedure, using the Ontario Parks Virtual Geocache Contract (copy attached).

 

Hmmm.

 

Virtual caches only in Provincial Parks... for a trial period... once reviewed... and approved by the Park Superintendent... and after the "Ontario Parks Virtual Geocache Contract" is signed... by all parties involved... then submit it to geocaching.com... with proof of OPP approval... then wait for the FTF... and wait. Yeah, this should work out just fine. Not.

 

Blind-sided! Man, I didn't see this one coming at all! <grin>

 

Read between the lines folks... No geocache, virtual or otherwise, will be planted from this day forth in Ontario Parks. At least not one worth the time and effort to have approved and definitely not one worth the time and effort to find. Thank you OPP.

 

Sound too negative? Hey, time will tell.

 

Tripper

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:laughing:

 

I am glad we left this to the pro's.

 

Parks Canada

Ontario Parks

Next?

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:laughing:

 

I am glad we left this to the pro's.

 

Parks Canada

Ontario Parks

Next?

Never said I was a pro

 

Thank you for your input.

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Cache-Tech... I have a feeling the "glad we left it to the pros" comment was probably directed more toward OGA than at you.

 

The person who posted the comment was (at one time) vying for the position of leadership of the fledgling OGA. The folks that were interested in getting OGA started took a vote, and democratically selected a OGA Administrator. The person selected was not the poster. The poster has not attempted to make any contribution to OGA since that time, welcome to do so though he is. Sour grapes maybe? :D

 

We all know you have done everything within your (limited) power to try to get a meaningful dialog going with Ontario Parks. It's not your fault they came up with this poor excuse for park policy. :laughing:

 

Rather than bellyache about people, I want to bellyache about policy...

 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but my interpretation of the policy goes something like this....

 

- I find a really cool spot in ABC Provincial Park that I'd like to mark as a virtual cache location. B) I contact the Park Superindendent and jump through various hoops for him. Provided that the stars are properly aligned, and I'm of sufficient birthright and virtue, my virtual gets approved by the mighty Park. Then, I do the gc.com cache submission dance and (hopefully) get approved by the cache approver. At this point, it's all hunky-dorey for any geocacher to hunt down my virtual location. This means that they enter the park legally, be good nature-loving citizens and don't tromp on the flora and fauna, and follow their GPS arrows to my most spectacular site... TADA... the virtual cache has been located! :D

 

Is that about right? OK, so how is that ay different than what I can do right now, without any approvals whatsoever...

 

- Call up my buddy who has a GPS receiver and tell him to go to Nxx xx.xxx Wxx xx.xxx which is situated in the ABC Provincial Park. So he heads out, enters the park legally. is a good nature-loving citizen and doesn't tromp on the flora and fauna, and follows his GPS arrow to location I gave him. He stands and gapes in awe at the spectacularity of the sight he beholds. :D

 

Does this seem strange to anyone else? How is it possible that, because I'm a geocacher, I need PERMISSION to pass along a set of coordinates to someone else? :)

 

If determined to be appropriate, considers site specific factors to determine whether to allow and, if so, a suitable location of a virtual geocache in the individual park. These include, but are not limited to the following factors:

Wait a sec! How can a virtual geocache have a "suitable" location. If I'm looking at a spectacular land feature which is situated along the trail system in the park, I'm afraid I don't have much choice in the "suitablility" of the location! It's right THERE!

 

Virtual geocache locations may be considered in park access and development zones as well as other park zones (except nature reserve and historic). Locations must be selected to minimize impact to natural and cultural features (i.e., stay on authorized trails at all times, avoid sacred/sensitive cultural sites and sensitive locations of species at risk).

If the park trail system takes me anywhere near sacred/sensitive cultural sites, then the park must WANT me to be there! Otherwise there'd be no blasted trail! Are they telling us we aren't allowed to mark a waypoint along the trail, and pass this waypoint along to others??? Just because we are Geocachers???

 

Considers the applicant’s request in the context of the total number and distribution of virtual geocaches that exist or may be appropriate for the provincial park.

Good grief! :D I may be a little thick, but it's just beginning to sink in now. These policy makers have NO IDEA what a virtual cache is! Hello????? It's a LOCATION on the planet! Nothing more! They are concerned about the "total number and distribution of" waypoints! "Well, it's OK if you post the coordinates of THAT waterfall, but don't ya dare post the location of that other one over THERE...we don't want folks lookin' at THAT one!"

 

In place of a ‘physical cache’, participants may choose to use a ‘virtual cache’. A ‘virtual cache’ by definition, is a cache that exists as an object, which was already there, at a specific location (e.g. obvious tree, rock formation, building or structure etc.). Typically, the cache owner creates a virtual cache where physical caches are not permitted or cannot be appropriately maintained. Virtual caches are usually novel, of interest to others who geocache, and have a special historic, community or geocaching quality that sets it apart from everyday objects. The reward for these caches tends to be the location itself and sharing information about one’s visit.

The writer of this document quoted chapter and verse directly from the gc.com pages... you'd think they might have taken the time to understand what they were writing about first!

 

I would have accepted a park policy, (either good for geocachers or not so good) as long as the policy was based on knowledge and investigation. This policy shows neither.

 

B) Saddened by the apparent lack of interest shown by Ontario Parks.

 

-TT-

 

(edit for the mandatory typos, misspellings and idiocy)

Edited by TrimblesTrek

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This policy is Asinine :laughing:

I look forward to the Parks Canada policy :)

Edited by Dagg

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Shouldn't we be concerned about Parks Ontario's restriction of virtuals? It concerns me that PO officials feel they can restrict people from posting waypoints to scenic locations, especially locations that they already encourage people to visit. Is it possible that PO may be overstepping their authority?

 

If someone were to publish a guidebook that posted the waypoints to scenic locations in Ontario parks, could PO stop the publication, confiscate the books, or sue the writer/publisher?

 

R of JARS

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Hey, at least they were able to get a handle on geocaching as an activity. Understanding what we do is a good first step. :laughing:

 

No matter how carefully you do it, geocaching is not a "leave no trace" activity. You're leaving stuff (junk, to some) in a park area. You have to see why this would concern park managers.

 

It's easy to blame the officious bureaucrats who are trying to ruin our fun, but there are rules in our parks and they are there for a reason.

 

Regards,

Anthony

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...No matter how carefully you do it, geocaching is not a "leave no trace" activity. You're leaving stuff (junk, to some) in a park area. You have to see why this would concern park managers.

 

It's easy to blame the officious bureaucrats who are trying to ruin our fun, but there are rules in our parks and they are there for a reason.

 

Regards,

Anthony

That's why virtuals are a good idea. We are not leaving stuff behind. We are giving people the location of a scenic/historic/educational site and asking them to answer a question or 2 that relate to the site.

 

I would like to know why park officials are banning virtual caches.

 

R of JARS

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Hey, at least they were able to get a handle on geocaching as an activity. Understanding what we do is a good first step.
I don't believe they understand a thing about geocaching. Seems to me that somebody visited the gc.com website and copied and pasted a bunch of verbiage. Then, with no further investigation, they wrote up a totally inane document.

 

I would like to know why park officials are banning virtual caches.
Hi J.A.R.S. Virtuals are the only ones they ARE allowing (provided enough hoops are jumped through to get it approved).

 

My point is, I don't believe they have any right whatsoever to disallow a group of people from sharing the coordinates of a location in the park (aka geocaching). It's a coordinate on the surface of the planet. It's not a box in the woods. It can't be moved, removed or even touched. Anyone legally in the park and following park rules can go to the coordinates. But they say we need special permission!

 

Ludicrous. :laughing:

 

edit: due to temporary insanity

Edited by TrimblesTrek

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:laughing: One thing I find interesting is that Land Use Permits are issued within Parks. Land Use Permits cross my desk on a regular basis, so I know that one type of land use permit is for "storage/storing". There is a small fee for a land use permit, but I wonder if I applied for a Land Use Permit for "storage" if I coud "store" a container filled with various trinkets at that spot.

 

I am really pretty disppointed with this outcome, but I guess I did see it coming. The person I talked to in Parks loves the idea of geocaching & was very enthusiastic about it. I have a suspicion that the field staff thought that physical geocaches would create more work load for them (having to meet with the geocacher and check the potential cache site to make sure it was suitable).

 

I really feel that the Parks systems are really missing out on a fantastic opportunity here. And what about the CEC? Did they have any input into this? They are located in a Provincial Park - what happens to their caches?

 

We waited two years for this?

 

-Donna G

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I really feel that the Parks systems are really missing out on a fantastic opportunity here. And what about the CEC?  Did they have any input into this? They are located in a Provincial Park - what happens to their caches?

Any caches the CEC had placed within Ontario Parks property were requested to be removed a year or so ago, all of the CEC caches are now located outside a provincial park on crown land.

 

:laughing:  One thing I find interesting is that Land Use Permits are issued within Parks.  Land Use Permits cross my desk on a regular basis, so I know that one type of land use permit is for "storage/storing". There is a small fee for a land use permit, but I wonder if I applied for a Land Use Permit for "storage" if I coud "store" a container filled with various trinkets at that spot.

 

One of the concerns is there is no control over the contents of a cache, it changes as the cache is visited and a non permitted item could be placed into the cache. One solution to this is to have logbook only caches with no trade items.

 

edit:spelling

Edited by cache-tech

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Ontario Parks has no legal right to limit or restrict any person posting the latitude and longitude of any location on the surface of the Earth.

 

If any such point constitutes "TRESPASSING" then the act of standing on that point is a violation of local laws.

 

If however that point is a public accessible point, where any person may at their own choosing take a photograph or read an informative plaque then that is permitted.

 

It is permitted because such a spot has been deemed "for public use and viewing" and is permitted if not encouraged to be visited by Ontario Parks.

 

Should Ontario Parks attempt to seek criminal action against a person providing such information, or visiting a public accessible area then Ontario Parks would be risking a counter charge of Discrimination under the Human Right Code of Canada.

 

Regardless, Virtual Caches are NOT PERMITTED by Geocaching.com under the current policy.

 

Just because a site cannot support a physical container does not mean it qualifies as a Virtual location.

 

I firmly agree that Ontario Parks not only has no understanding of Geocaching what so ever, but has been arrogant in not consulting with ANYONE from the Geocaching community.

 

I have made several attempts to contact them... all were ignored. Totally! Not even a reply of "Ontario Parks is developing a ban to destroy your hobby"

 

Nothing.

 

That is what I cannot tolerate.. we waited for two years, tried to help them promote their lands, wanted to work with them to make a realistic and workable policy. They wouldn't so much as tell us their concerns.

 

OGA does not accept this policy, not one word of it, as it has been designed with limited or more likely no understanding.

 

This policy is akin to saying "A few Priests have molested a few children.... we should kill ALL the priests. It is too hard to teach everyone, so the church will purge this toxin.... genocide is the only solution... now everyone put on their blindfolds!"

 

No offence to any Catholics, it is just an example of a narrow minded approach to a problem.

 

OGA - Admin

 

Oh... I also suspect that Ontario Parks is the real author of the Parks Canada policy, and suggested that Parks Canada release their policy first, so that PC looks like the bad guy and Ontario Parks is just following along.

 

I for one am not fooled! Ontario Parks staff have been nothing but hostile or unapproachable from the time they asked for their BAN.

 

Parks Canada, however misguided they have been, at least was open to discussion to find a way to implement a future policy. That is Parks Canada's directive... to develop a policy to support Geocaching in all of its formats.

 

Donna is right...

 

We waited two years for this?

 

It's nothing but a poorly thought out BAN that shows no thought at all.

 

ONTARIO PARKS.... TRY AGAIN!

 

Better yet TRY!!! FOR ONCE

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I for one am not fooled!  Ontario Parks staff have been nothing but hostile or unapproachable from the time they asked for their BAN.

 

I agree with the OGA Whole Heartedly that this is a haphazard response to an incorrectly percieved threat that Ontario Parks appears to know nothing about.

 

I wouldn't say however that ALL Ontario Parks staff feel this way. To me, it seems to be all of the "Higher-Ups" that have a hate-on for Geocaching.

 

I have personally worked with specific Ontario Parks admin staff recently who were thrilled to hear about Geocaching and were greatful to have geocachers at their park. All of the parks staff that I have talked with (they are all involved in day-to-day operations) are more than eager to know more about what geocaching is and even to participate.

 

I think we are dealing with a pile of Bureaucrats here who do not care to think of, discuss or aknowledge what is by rights just as technically acceptable as any other activity that is performed within park boundaries.

 

This Ontario Parks business is making me sick.

 

Don't forget to legislate Boy Scouts out of the parks. FOR the love of god they make FIRES! :ph34r:

Edited by Swifteroo

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One VERY IMPORTANT point in the BAN

 

Advises owners of existing unauthorized virtual geocaches that they are required to apply for authorization, using the attached contract, within one year of the implementation of this procedure.

 

Park Superintendent

Advises owners of existing physical geocaches that they must remove their caches within one year of implementation of this procedure.

 

After one year of implementation of this procedure, removes all remaining physical geocaches

 

NO ONE has to remove their cache for a YEAR! And they have to contact you too! That is their rule. I guarantee you that my only cache in a Provincial Park will be sitting in the same spot until the 15th of April 2006. And unless I get a contact message from the PARKS SUPERVISOR, I won't be touching it at all. If they touch it before the 15th of April 2006 and/or have not contacted me I will put it right back again and advise them to READ THE POLICY!

 

So, if you have a cache in a Provincial Park, or know someone that does... tell them that they do not have to remove their cache until the 15th of April, 2006.

 

Even then, I'll wait till the last possible second to remove it, or should I say relocate it. There are many places in the Park that are not actually Ontario Parks land. Hydro Easements are a good example. And then Ontario Parks would have no jurisdiction to remove my cache. It's not on their land, and not affected by their policy/BAN.

 

OGA - Admin

 

edit: typo and clarification, not annoyance.

Edited by OGA - Admin

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Oh.... Cache-Tech.

 

Just my two cents worth....

 

You might want to consider that if after a year, Ontario Parks begins sending you requests for an ARCHIVE of a cache that they MUST return the cache container to you as proof that they actually did ARCHIVE the cache.

 

They might claim they picked it up, and haven't, or plan to sometime in the future.

 

The Geocachers of Ontario cannot allow Ontario Parks to litter. And by saying that the cache has been archived without proving they picked it up would be littering.

 

So until they PROVE that they picked up the cache, it should remain active, just like any other cache.

 

Or you could do like you have before.... post a note requesting the cache be picked up and if a 'recognized geocacher' says they picked it up then it could be archived.

 

OGA - Admin

 

edit: added the "post a note section"

Edited by OGA - Admin

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I had the opportunity this week to make a start on the Huron-Clinton Metropark 2005 cache series. This extensive 13 park system surrounds Detroit and ranges from organized recreational parks to nature preserves, trails and historic sites. Check under park activities and you'll find geocaching is one - and yes, to complete the series you need to find all 13 caches they've hidden in each of their parks. They are enlightened enough to realise that geocaching is a low-impact recreational activity that is good for people and parks and they have thoroughly embraced the idea. You can put your own cache there with a simple set of rules and a no charge annual permit system which to me is very reasonable. They have their own annual cache series and the famous Bill & Gary Excellent Adventures (my favourite - can't wait for 2005 to be released). And they run events - Bill and Gary (two park wardens) have an annual picnic - very well attended by geocachers and this year there is a caching event at one of their historic sites, organized by, who I believe is, a park historian. That event includes a Geocaching 101 session for newbie cachers and they also hold GPSr training courses. Why do they do this? Not through love of geocaching. It attracts people and people generate revenue - hold a CITO event and you get an area cleaned up for nothing. Would I pay to visit their parks if it wasn't for geocaching. Probably not. Would I pay to visit their parks, find some caches and clean up some litter - definitely yes!

 

When will Parks Ontario see the light???

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I have had a report of a cache owner being contacted with an offer to "Pick up their Cache" for them.

 

The Cache in question is located in an Ontario Parks location.

 

A few things of note,

 

It is nice that fellow Cachers are offering to save Cache Owners the trouble of going to get the Cache, however, the proper procedure is required.

 

- Parks Superintendent will contact the Cache Owner

- Physical Caches must be removed by 15th April, 2006 (no need to remove them now)

 

This serves a few important items.

 

- It shows Ontario Parks that the Cache Owner is responsible for their own Cache

- It confirms that proper contact has been established and verified

- It allows Cache Owners to meet with Park Superintendents to discuss Geocaching, which may help implement changes to the Ban Policy

- It ensures that the cache is really removed.

 

It also requires Ontario Parks to fullfill their responsibilites of contacting the Cache Owner and requesting the removal.

 

It's their policy, they need to enforce it just as much as Cachers do. It is a requirement that a Parks Superintendent contacts the Cache Owner to inform them of the terms of the Policy.

 

If you are unsure of your requirements, please read the Policy and/or ask me for OGA's stance on the policy and what you need to do, and when.

 

OGA - Admin

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