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Interview with a Park Ranger


adomatis
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If you could anonymously ask a park ranger a question regarding geocaching, what would you ask?

I'm writing an article on geocaching and will be interviewing local authorities. I’d like to have your questions answered too. I will be focusing on issues of impact, maintenance, and “overcaching”, but I don’t want to miss an opportunity to ask other questions that would be of interest to this forum. In exchange for your Qs, I will post the completed article here.

Please reply,

Doug Adomatis

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Why interview a ranger? They only inforce policy that is set higher up. Go straight to the people who make the policy, like Marcia Keener, an analyst at the NPS Office of Policy in Washington.

 

Read about it: A Dialogue With the National Park Service

 

There was some follow-up:

Virtual Caching in National Parks.

 

Adomatis, if you would like to pick up the dialogue, a little searching around at the NPS website will get you in touch with the people who really make a difference.

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I would ask what their greatest fear about geocaching is. If we don't know their fears we can't address them. If we can't address them nothing gets changed.

 

I know that WE all think their fears are social trails, litter, hordes of cachers, etc., but it may in fact be a lack of knowledge, fear of losing their job, or something else.

 

First rule of negotiation -- find out what the other side wants. (It may actually be less than you think.)

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i would ask:

1)Why do you think John Q. Public visits your park, and what do they do there?

2)Why do you think geocachers come to your park, and what do they do while there?

3)What differences, good or bad, can you find between the two groups?

 

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quote:
CaptHawke wrote:

Why interview a ranger?


 

I'm not so much interested in trying to change policy, as I am interested in writing an article that will defray some anxiety about playing by the rules.

The interview candidates I have in mind are advocates of geocaching. I hope to show a perspective of geocaching that is encouraging.

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This is probably the dumbest question that will appear on this thread, but, here goes...

 

I set out my first cache without getting permission because I didn't want to go through a lot of red tape only to learn that we don't have any cachers in Idaho anyway. Turns out I was wrong and I've had many visitors and postive comments.

 

But now the dilemma: How do I get permission for something I've already done? I don't want to find out that I've done something wrong. What if they say no and just shut down my hobby?

 

I need an amnesty day like they have for overdue movie rentals -- just come and talk to us, and we won't throw you in jail ...

 

OK, so that's not a question, but can you turn it into one? I really would like to see a park manager's response -- especially if you're doing city park officials.

 

another real question would be: what do they need to see to decide if it's worth supporting? Usage numbers? More info on the sport? And do they want that in a letter or a web site or documentation from other places that have allowed caching

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My question would be:

 

How would you suggest we go about working with the parks department to create a set of guidelines for caching on public lands? This would include but not be limited to national forests, state parks, national rec areas and yes National Parks.**

 

** On this note I'd like to say I advocate limiting cache's in National Parks to virtual's only.

 

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adomatis,

 

Glad to hear that this interview is going to be one to shed the sport in a good light rather than bash it. Along the lines of Shel's question I was wondering if you could ask them what the best way for us to open up communication lines with them is. I have some caches hidden with cooperation of the parks people and some that I don't, so I fall into the catagory with Shell too. I would like to make them all legit but I don't want to bring attention to other's and possibly create problems out there.

 

Good luck with the interview I look forward to hearing how it goes.

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I plan to bring up the forgiveness v. permission issue but you can imagine the response. Imagine if someone wanted to put a cookie jar in your cubical, wouldn't you want to know about it upfront? OK. so maybe that's not a perfect analogy, but you should agree that the placement of a cache within a ranger's jurisdiction will have an impact on their activities (regardless of whether they know the cache is there or not).

Yes, I believe that communication is important or I wouldn't be writing the article. Time is of the essence in the Carolinas as decisions are being made regarding the Park System and GeoCaching.

Again, what questions can I ask that would prompt my ranger to talk about how the Park Service and GeoCachers can work with each other to make the sport a greater good?

- Doug Adomatis

 

Douglas J Adomatis

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May I put a point up? I know the big question is why we can't put caches on National Parks. I don't see why we can't but right now we have to follow their rules. One way to help get it across to them (NP) that this is not a bad thing is to start at the local level. (ex. city/state)

If we can show them that the local people are letting us do it then maybe they will take a more serious look into the matter.

I know this from my experience from working at the state parks here in MS. I have showed it does the park good to have a geocach on it. I have also showed that geocachers do not mees up the surrounding area like non cachers. I have also showed that cachers don't litter like regular guset do. So in doing that it has been a positive reaction in getting other caches placed in the local and private areas.

So just ask and inform people of what is going on and what it is about will help out more than anything else. If you get a NO then maybe relook at how you explaned youreself or just move on to a different location and ask there.

 

Thanks

sivad

Wall Doxey State Park, MS

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It appears that until we get political support, we will not break the rule against traditional caches in national parks. While individual effort is to be commended, unless geocaching at a minimum rises to a level of a non-profit organization that can lobby and/or present the issues to government officials who can support us and can use his position to influence the decision makers, nothing much is going to happen.

 

It might be better to spend effort gaining support on the local level in local parks. If these can become successful, that might help later at the national level when we do get the level metioned earlier.

 

In the meanwhile, virtuals, multi-virtuals, interesting routes, tracked hiking routes through interest points in the park,etc that can use our GPSR's would still allow us to find and enjoy many of the interesting places in National Parks, off the normal tourist path, more than the regular visitor.

 

We're pretty creative. Let's use our imagination to create ways to use our GPS processes in National Parks and still meet the rules. Let's think positive and get on with it.

 

Alan

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I'm guessing these interviews are with state park rangers and not national park rangers. I'd love to ask a NP administrator how the heck it can be ok to run so many snowmobiles around yellowstone that the noxious fumes make the park staff sick, but I can't place a cache out there.

 

Don't get me wrong, I realize the impact of hiking and common trails, in Acadia NP I saw idiots walking right pass signs saying to please stay on the trail or the rocks (I believe it was on Cadillac MT) becaues of the damage to the plant life there and I just wanted to smack them, .... I'm rambling... anyway that would be my question.

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Although this wasn't my original intention, I like the grassroots approach to winning-over/ winning-back the National Parks. The circulation of my article will likely be limited to my web site, local trail club newsletters and maybe the Greenville News. However, I anticipate that I will get some response beyond the Carolinas.

Can somebody remind me who was working the "permission database" of contacts for various park jurisdictions?

I'd like to be able to show that there is an organized effort on the side of geocachers to up front and above reproach.

 

Douglas J Adomatis

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quote:
Originally posted by mikechim:

I'm guessing these interviews are with state park rangers and not national park rangers. I'd love to ask a NP administrator how the heck it can be ok to run so many snowmobiles around yellowstone that the noxious fumes make the park staff sick, but I can't place a cache out there.

 

Don't get me wrong, I realize the impact of hiking and common trails, in Acadia NP I saw idiots walking right pass signs saying to please stay on the trail or the rocks (I believe it was on Cadillac MT) becaues of the damage to the plant life there and I just wanted to smack them, .... I'm rambling... anyway that would be my question.


 

If you really would love to ask the question, what's stopping you? Seriously. The name, address, phone, fax and email of every NPS administrator is on their website, www.nps.gov. If they are making this info public they must want the public to use it.

 

Here's Yellowstone:

 

Superintendent Suzanne Lewis

Yellowstone NP

P.O. Box 168

Yellowstone, WY 82190

 

Business Offices: 307-344-7381

Fax: 307-344-2005

EMAIL: YELL_Superintendent@nps.go

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quote:
Originally posted by CaptHawke:

 

If you really would love to ask the question, what's stopping you? Seriously. The name, address, phone, fax and email of every NPS administrator is on their website, http://www.nps.gov. If they are making this info public they must want the public to use it.

 

Here's Yellowstone:

 

Superintendent Suzanne Lewis

Yellowstone NP

P.O. Box 168

Yellowstone, WY 82190

 

Business Offices: 307-344-7381

Fax: 307-344-2005

EMAIL: YELL_Superintendent@nps.go


 

I never realized that icon_confused.gif , I'll draft up a letter here in the near future and send it along. Thanks

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quote:
Originally posted by CaptHawke:

 

If you really would love to ask the question, what's stopping you? Seriously. The name, address, phone, fax and email of every NPS administrator is on their website, http://www.nps.gov. If they are making this info public they must want the public to use it.

 

Here's Yellowstone:

 

Superintendent Suzanne Lewis

Yellowstone NP

P.O. Box 168

Yellowstone, WY 82190

 

Business Offices: 307-344-7381

Fax: 307-344-2005

EMAIL: YELL_Superintendent@nps.go


 

I never realized that icon_confused.gif , I'll draft up a letter here in the near future and send it along. Thanks

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quote:
Originally posted by mikechim:

quote:
Originally posted by CaptHawke:

 

If you really would love to ask the question, what's stopping you? Seriously. The name, address, phone, fax and email of every NPS administrator is on their website, http://www.nps.gov. If they are making this info public they must want the public to use it.

 

Here's Yellowstone:

 

Superintendent Suzanne Lewis

Yellowstone NP

P.O. Box 168

Yellowstone, WY 82190

 

Business Offices: 307-344-7381

Fax: 307-344-2005

EMAIL: YELL_Superintendent@nps.go


 

I never realized that icon_confused.gif , I'll draft up a letter here in the near future and send it along. Thanks


 

Super! Be sure to share any response with us.

 

The faq sez: "In the last 7 days, there have been 10875 new logs written by 3478 account holders." Imagine if each time someone wrote a log they also sent off a thoughtful note to the stewards of our public lands, local, state or national, asking for a statement or explaination of their geocaching policy. Or maybe an invitation to join us on a cache hunt.

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quote:
Originally posted by mikechim:

quote:
Originally posted by CaptHawke:

 

If you really would love to ask the question, what's stopping you? Seriously. The name, address, phone, fax and email of every NPS administrator is on their website, http://www.nps.gov. If they are making this info public they must want the public to use it.

 

Here's Yellowstone:

 

Superintendent Suzanne Lewis

Yellowstone NP

P.O. Box 168

Yellowstone, WY 82190

 

Business Offices: 307-344-7381

Fax: 307-344-2005

EMAIL: YELL_Superintendent@nps.go


 

I never realized that icon_confused.gif , I'll draft up a letter here in the near future and send it along. Thanks


 

Super! Be sure to share any response with us.

 

The faq sez: "In the last 7 days, there have been 10875 new logs written by 3478 account holders." Imagine if each time someone wrote a log they also sent off a thoughtful note to the stewards of our public lands, local, state or national, asking for a statement or explaination of their geocaching policy. Or maybe an invitation to join us on a cache hunt.

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Ah, Park Rangers....Loved that job. Too bad I decided to take a stab into politics which forced me out of the NPS.

 

You can go to 4 Rangers and ask them about placing a geocache and get 4 different answers. It’s like littering (one of my big gripes). Some Rangers would automatically write a ticket. Others might still write a ticket, but explain why littering is a no no. Another Ranger might issue a verbal warning. Others might give the violator a option to pick up trash or get a ticket.

 

It’s the same with geocaching. Some might say NO and refuse anymore debate about it. Others might say No but explain why. Others might say yes, but watch over you and tell you exactly where to place it. Others might say here are the rules and place it within those guidelines.

 

Remember that Rangers are suppose to protect the Park for future generations. If a cache is going to harm/is harming the park in some way, then it’s going to be pulled.

 

 

Garmin Vista

Garmin Street Pilot

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quote:
Originally posted by Ranger Roger:

Remember that Rangers are suppose to protect the Park for future generations. If a cache is going to harm/is harming the park in some way, then it’s going to be pulled.

 

Garmin Vista

Garmin Street Pilot


 

I understand and agree 100%, I don't understand the vilification of rangers that has gone on in some threads, like you say their only doing their jobs, heck I hope to get a job as a park ranger during my summers off of grad school. Also I've found that the majority of the rangers I've talked with (at the State Park level) have no problem with geocaching, they even said go ahead and do it, but don't ask the supervisors... the reason being all the red tape and everything else. It's not the rangers (for the most part, although the rangers have every right to remove a cache that actually is damaging to an area, ie disturbing nesting areas for an endagered species, trampling on endangered plants, causing erosion, etc) but it's the park management in the higher levels (the same ones that allow snow mobiling and not caching) that make the laws the rangers have to follow. Once again I find myself rambling, I'll just say that in all the parks I've hit (both state and national) the rangers have been nothing but friendly. Heck two rangers in Teddy Roosevelt NP even drove me all the way back to my truck and picked the lock for me (I had foolishly locked my keys inside).

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quote:
Originally posted by CaptHawke:

And friends, they may think its a movement.


 

CaptHawke, you MUST be a member in good standing of the OFC. icon_wink.gif

 

Anything to start the dialog. Someone said earlier that if we start the dialog and they choose not to respond, at least we have done our part. By choosing not to respond is, in essence, permission to proceed. If they did not want us to go ahead with this, they would have said so.

 

Just MHO. icon_biggrin.gif

 

inceptor

the only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys

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quote:
Originally posted by CaptHawke:

And friends, they may think its a movement.


 

CaptHawke, you MUST be a member in good standing of the OFC. icon_wink.gif

 

Anything to start the dialog. Someone said earlier that if we start the dialog and they choose not to respond, at least we have done our part. By choosing not to respond is, in essence, permission to proceed. If they did not want us to go ahead with this, they would have said so.

 

Just MHO. icon_biggrin.gif

 

inceptor

the only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys

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Thanks for the comment, mikechim. People need to realize that inside the Ranger is a human being. I've seen some new Rangers do everything by the book to impress their Supervisors for later hopes for promotion. Basically, like almost any job that is a dog eat dog job, if you want that promotion, you kiss alot of supervisors A%%. Screw the visitor-they won't get you that promotion. Remember that alot of outdoor loving people have always dreamed about being a Park Ranger and because of that there are always tens of thousands applying for that one spot.

 

You'll have the easy laid back Ranger that is ahppy where they are, then you have the ones that fight for the chance for that promotion. I don't think I was ever one of those "gotta kiss to get that promotion. I was always more concern about the visitor.

 

But you do get pressure from above to produce and if you want to keep that job, you need to produce.

 

Start a friendship with one of the Rangers and more than likely they will look the other way if you're nice. Be a dick about placing a cache and they will yank it out of the Park.

 

I hope to return to being a Park Ranger someday, but before that I want enough money to live okay on. NPS Rangers (and most any other Ranger) aren't paid a whole lot.

 

Peace

 

 

Garmin Vista

Garmin Street Pilot

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I had the first round of discussion yesterday and may finish up today. "Ranger Joe" impressed upon me how he sees GeoCaching as a way to introduce people to, and find real value in, the park's resources. He does get "apprenhisive" when he finds caches located in sensitive or dangereous areas, and he does use the logs at Geocaching.com to encourage proper maintenance. Of all the caches in his area, no one has asked permission first, and this dissapoints him. Stay tuned for the full article.

Last call for suggestions. Does anyone else have a question they'd like to ask?

 

- Doug Adomatis

Travel by GPS

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