Forum: Northeast Region
Topic: PA State Parks Regulating Geocaching
started by: mikechim

Posted by mikechim on July 26 2002,8:26 pm
A few weeks ago I found out that the PA state parks will start requiring cache placers to register there caches with the park it's placed in.  Included in the form was info on not damaging the ecology, requirements, etc.  as well as letting the rangers know what the cache looks like and where it is (good thing IMHO hopefully it will keep the bomb squad at bay).  Anyway in the original contract there was a line stating that the cache placer basically has to protect the state and that if anyone was hurt caching the cache placer was responsible to cover the states legal fees and any settlement.  

Fortunately the head of the parks was willing to listen to many of us from around the state who wrote letters and the section was removed.  Here is a draft copy of the form:

Request it from Cmeade@state.pa.us . Here is what it says:
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION & NATURAL RESOURCES
BUREAU OF STATE PARKS
GEOCACHE IDENTIFICATION FORM

This agreement is made this day of _, by and between the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of State Parks (PARKS”) and ____ (not to exceed 5 years); however, the permission may be revoked at any time by the DEPARTMENT acting through a Park Manager or designee.

3. REPONSIBLE PARTY is not permitted to do the following:

a. Earth disturbance or vegetative impact to the approved geocache site.

b. Move or alter approved geocache location.

c. Allow the insertion of hazardous or pornographic materials in the geocache container.

d. Other (state “no other conditions” or list other conditions):

4. The cache may not be placed within Natural Areas or Wild Plant Sanctuaries, or on stream banks, riparian zones, wetlands, prehistoric and historic archaeological sites, exemplary natural communities, ecologically sensitive areas, unique geological features, or unsafe areas.

5. RESPONSIBLE PARTY will remove geocache on or before the date of expiration of this permission; however, if this permission is revoked, RESPONSIBLE PARTY will remove the geocache immediately upon being informed of the revocation by the Park Manager or designee. Park Manager or designee shall be notified by the RESPONSIBLE PARTY when the cache is removed.

7. RESPONSIBLE PARTY releases DEPARTMENT and its agents from any claim arising from injury to RESPONSIBLE PARTY or any other person or damage to any property which might be sustained as a result of RESPONSIBLE PARTY’S engaging in geocache hunting.

8. DEPARTMENT does not assume responsibility or liability for injury to any person or damage to any property sustained as a result of the placement or existence of the geocache, or use of the geocache by any person with any device or for any purpose.

9. DEPARTMENT does not assume responsibility or liability for RESPONSIBLE PARTY’S safety or the consequences of RESPONSIBLE PARTY’S engaging in geocaching.

10. This agreement may not be construed as a waiver of any immunity DEPARTMENT may have.

I have to say that I am very pleased with the interaction that took place.  I'm posting this here since a vast majority of you guys are near us.  The form will be finalized in a few weeks and then will go into effect.  I feel that the state did their part in working with us (from what I hear the same thing is going to soon be required of mt bikers, hunters, etc) and I feel as a geocaching community we need to show that we can work with park agencies (especially in the next few years when issues in National Forests may come up).  So if you have placed or plan on placing a cache in a PA state park, please register it. Also if you know anyone who has one please drop them an email and let them know of the new regulation.

Thanks
Posted by Quinn on July 26 2002,11:33 pm
Here is an e-mail I got today from pretty much the same people...


" Dear Sirs:

Geocaching Guidelines have been developed and placed into effect for the Pennsylvania DCNR-Bureau of Forestry on July 23, 2002.  Existing geocaches on Pennsylvania State Forest lands will be given 30 days, starting Monday, July 29, 2002, to be removed by the geocache's responsible person for placement.  The responsible person must then contact the appropriate local State Forest District Office to obtain and complete the Identification Form and Agreement to place and maintain a geocache.

Those geocaches not removed by TUESDAY, AUGUST 27, 2002, shall be treated as abandoned property and confiscated by Bureau of Forestry personnel. "
:(
Posted by Road Kill on July 27 2002,7:19 am
I just went through the geocaching approvial proceedure a month ago at Hills Creek State Park in Pennsylvania. My initial reason for placing a cache there was because my son had just moved there and I saw a big cache void when planning my first visit. I spotted the park and, in talking with a ranger there, I found out that the park had a geocaching policy.  Now I had to see how difficult this was going to be, Right?

Actually it was quite painless. I showed them the box (though I didn't have to) when I picked up the form at their ranger station. The basic procedure is to find a spot, mark it on the map provided by the park, fill out a form (much like a cache page on line), and sign a page of rules that you agree to abide by. Here are some of the rules in cachers terms:

Agree that the cache will not be moved or place anywhere other than the approved location.
Agree to reapply or remove the cache within 2 years or remove it immediately if the parks asks.
Agree not to disturb the earth or allow hazardous materials in the cache.
Agree not to hold the park responsible if a claim of injury or damage is a result of the cache placement or existence.
Agree that the park does not assume responsibility or liability for other persons engaged in looking for your cache.

At any rate the whole wording is provided above but that's my interpretation in a nutshell.

So you sign the paper and the parks people then do their thing to approve the spot. Once you have their OK, you place the cache and the rest is your normal routine to get it posted on line.

I am sure New York and many other states will be following with similar procedures.


Posted by PC Medic on July 28 2002,3:56 pm
I have just responded to the email we received (which Quinn has already quoted here). Having been busy the past couple days, I did not realize the thread started without me, but based on their message and the few posts so far, the decision certainly could have been worse.

The way I see it, Pennsylvania has been reasonable enough to allow at least a controlled form of geocaching.  :^:  This is definately a good first step in my opinion. The alternative could have been no geocaching at all :nono  as some others decided without even giving the sport a fair chance.

I understand they have a job to do protecting both the land, and the safety of those who use it. So if the process is as painless as it appears from the few posts here so far, I think it is something we can live with. Perhaps down the road, they will revisit the subject. What decision they make then depends on everyones choice to be responsible cachers.
Posted by Choberiba on July 28 2002,10:02 pm
Fee?

Maybe I missed it but I didn't even see a fee associated with placing a cache. Considering caches shouldn't be that close together a series of poorly thought-out caches can eat up a lot of space quickly.

California hasn't incorporated these types of hurdles yet but I would think that a $5 fee or so would be reasonable.

Now, who wants to smack me first?  :p
Posted by mikechim on July 29 2002,8:52 am
Quote (Choberiba @ July 29 2002,12:02 am)
Fee?

Maybe I missed it but I didn't even see a fee associated with placing a cache. Considering caches shouldn't be that close together a series of poorly thought-out caches can eat up a lot of space quickly.

California hasn't incorporated these types of hurdles yet but I would think that a $5 fee or so would be reasonable.

Now, who wants to smack me first?  :p

Hmm.... I'm sort of split on the fee.

One part of me has a sort principle type thing against it.  Unlike most states, State Parks in PA are still free  :^:.  I see a fee as sort of against the principle of free use by everyone.  

BUT  I would almost prefer a fee if it would keep crappy poorly thought out caches out of the parks.  Not only do these crowd the area up but it also takes away places for people who put a lot of time and effort into their caches to place caches.  If you put no more effort then throwing a cool whip container filled with junk into the woods I doubt you'll pay the $5 fee.
Posted by PC Medic on July 30 2002,4:45 pm
I definitely do NOT think there should be a fee associated. :nono

If the park is free to others, then it should also be free to cachers. If there is a park entrance fee for others, then the same entrance fee should obviously apply for cachers. I mean come on, cachers pay the same taxes as other park visitors!
Besides, when it comes down to, while all cachers may not participate in the "Cache in Trash out" practice, I will bet more cachers pick up trash along the trails than your average hiker or camper.
Posted by mikechim on July 30 2002,9:28 pm
Quote (PC Medic @ July 30 2002,6:45 pm)
Besides, when it comes down to, while all cachers may not participate in the "Cache in Trash out" practice, I will bet more cachers pick up trash along the trails than your average hiker or camper.

I agree with that 100%, I think overall cachers tend to trash out much more then any other group.
Posted by RangerMaster on April 26 2008,4:25 pm
Do you need a permit to place a cache in State Gamelands by chance?
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