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Trudy and the beast
WGA Member



Joined: 2002-07-26
Posts: 2375
Location: Milwaukee, WI, USA

PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2007 4:31 am Reply with quote Back to top

I caught this thought tripping through my mind this morning and thought I might share it.

If we (WGA) were to offer a data base on line for the use of the parks departments we could assume a little greater control of uniformity, abate land manager concerns and the concerns of our members. I realize that there are a host of concerns that go along with security and data management, but if we were to offer a prepared package to Parks departments, they might just fly with it rather than struggle with the machinations involved with reinventing the process.

We could start with a basic form that emulates the DNR form and allow data to be filled in on line by the cache owner, Parks Manager or WGA volunteer. We could possibly allow scanning the data in for those with scanners.

Now to rest these over-taxed brain cells
 
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Jeremy
WGA Member



Joined: 2002-02-19
Posts: 3249
Location: Milwaukee, WI

PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2007 4:57 pm Reply with quote Back to top

I've thought about this too Ray.

Big question is whether we could get land managers to agree to use it. First of all, they would have to give up control of the data they collect and trust the WGA to maintain it for them. I don't think folks like the state (DNR) would agree to do this. Second, although we'd rather not have this happen, I'm sure each land manager will want to collect slightly different bits of information from those who place caches on their land. This would mean the system would have to be tweaked each time a new land manager / parks dept signed up to use the system.

On the plus side, it would streamline the notification process for both land managers (i.e. no shuffling of paper forms) and geocachers (they would know right where to go to submit geocache information, and the process would be standardized). It would also help with the review process, as the reviewers could easily check to see whether notification was made and permission granted.

Really this is something that geocaching.com should consider doing to ensure the long-term survival of the sport. However, it seems they are struggling just to keep their site afloat, plus they may not be in tune with what is happening regarding cache placement notifications in our neck of the woods. (Or is it just our neck of the woods... I've got to think this is happening nationwide or worldwide?)

Bottom line, if the WGA would want to provide such a system, I'd be willing to work on it. But I would want to have at least one or two parks departments agree to use such a system first, rather than spend time working on something without a "customer" ("build it, they will come" mentality) and end up with a white elephant.
 
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Team Deejay
WGA Member



Joined: 2005-10-02
Posts: 2390
Location: Rochester, WI, US

PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2007 8:23 pm Reply with quote Back to top

On a related note, how difficult would it be to set up a searchable database of parks department resources and approval requirements, organized by Parks department, county and park? Obviously we would need to collect the data, but I am asking more about the technical side for making the data available to the membership?
 
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AuntieNae
WGA Treasurer
WGA Treasurer



Joined: 2004-04-12
Posts: 3252
Location: Waukesha/ Greenfield/ Milwaukee

PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2007 9:09 pm Reply with quote Back to top

As both a Geocacher and a Recreation Supervisor, I have been working to serve as a bridge between the two. I posted in the private Education Committee forum that I have been invited to speak:

- Wisconsin Park & Recreation Association's (WPRA) Park Section Board meeting in May
- WPRA's Annual Conference in November.

I will keep everyone posted on the feedback from these.

AuntieNae
Renee

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Finding Flow in Nature - Earthcaches Rock!Disclaimer: This post and the contents of any links or images attached is the opinion of this poster and not that of the WGA or it\'s Board of Directors. 
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Jeremy
WGA Member



Joined: 2002-02-19
Posts: 3249
Location: Milwaukee, WI

PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2007 5:24 am Reply with quote Back to top

Team Deejay wrote:
On a related note, how difficult would it be to set up a searchable database of parks department resources and approval requirements, organized by Parks department, county and park? Obviously we would need to collect the data, but I am asking more about the technical side for making the data available to the membership?


Technically possible... but it may be not needed yet, as the number of places in Wisconsin that require notification are small and I think we have them all spelled out on the Hiding A Cache page. Of course, if more agencies require notification, it may get too unwieldy to list them all on a page...

There is also already a national site with a geocaching policy information database... nothing listed for Wisconsin, but Iowa has been very active in adding the policies for their state:

http://geocachingpolicy.org

Definitely not the cleanest user interface in the world, and it isn't easy to figure out how to search for or add policies. Again, this is probably a service that geocaching.com should be providing, but is not.

Here is a map the Iowa folks have on their site... the map links to county policies (if known):

http://www.iowageocachers.org/county_info.php
 
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Team Deejay
WGA Member



Joined: 2005-10-02
Posts: 2390
Location: Rochester, WI, US

PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2007 8:22 am Reply with quote Back to top

I'm more concerned about APPROVAL, rather than notification. Specifically, if I want to place a cache in the Village of Backwater Soccer Park, who is the contact and what is the procedure? The procedure might be a notification form, sending an email, or nothing at all. We need a central repository for this information as it is collected. Even if certain parks departments don't have a formal procedure, most of them would like the courtesy of a contact before or after placement.
 
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Team Hemisphere Dancer
WGA Member



Joined: 2006-02-22
Posts: 2049
Location: Appleton, WI

PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2007 8:52 am Reply with quote Back to top

On another note with this. Is there a way of tracking the caches in the county park. Because if there are only 50 caches in a counties parks, and the fee is $5 a cache they will only get $250. If this is pointed out to them they will realize that it will cost them more to maintain this each year than it will be bringing in. Especially if they realize that these are public records and we at any time can have them look up these records.

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PCFrog
WGA Member



Joined: 2005-05-11
Posts: 728
Location: Sparta, WI

PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2007 10:13 am Reply with quote Back to top

Team Hemisphere Dancer wrote:
On another note with this. Is there a way of tracking the caches in the county park. Because if there are only 50 caches in a counties parks, and the fee is $5 a cache they will only get $250. If this is pointed out to them they will realize that it will cost them more to maintain this each year than it will be bringing in. Especially if they realize that these are public records and we at any time can have them look up these records.


Good point, so they will probably raise the fee to $15.
 
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Gusty Winds
WGA Friend



Joined: 2006-09-28
Posts: 118

PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2007 11:15 am Reply with quote Back to top

Even the busiest of the Milwaukee County Parks [Estabrook, Grant or Whitnall] hosts no more than a score of geocaches. I have no thoughts that parks departments view geocache registration fees as a viable source of revenue. I believe the fees invoked by Dane, Brown or any other county are largely for the purpose of limiting the activity. This means reduced administrative cost. Fewer caches registered means lower demand on the staff. If we tell them that fees will make us abandon the parks, it will not cause them alarm.

The purpose of offering to manage the data for P&R is to reduce their administrative cost. With their shrinking budgets, we need to show them improved cost/benefit ratios. We can talk all day about how our sport is good for the parks, we are good people, family people, we clean-up after ourselves, yada, yada. But, if they see that they are now in the position of needing to track our activity, answer to Homeland Security, monitor traffic, etc; we will lose.

My thoughts on developing such a database are that it could solve problems for P&R and WGA folks. Can we make it work and how?
 
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Team Deejay
WGA Member



Joined: 2005-10-02
Posts: 2390
Location: Rochester, WI, US

PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2007 1:25 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Jeremy wrote:

There is also already a national site with a geocaching policy information database... nothing listed for Wisconsin, but Iowa has been very active in adding the policies for their state:

http://geocachingpolicy.org

Definitely not the cleanest user interface in the world, and it isn't easy to figure out how to search for or add policies. Again, this is probably a service that geocaching.com should be providing, but is not.



I took a look at this site. This site is designed for the agencies to post their policies, not geocachers. While this would certainly be preferable, I think this approach is pretty naive (and explains why there is very little data after the site has been around for 4 years.) That said, the idea is exactly what I'm looking for. I'm just looking for a place where we could post the Agency, contact information, parks and a link to any geocaching policy the agency might have.
 
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Ratz and company
WGA Member



Joined: 2006-04-04
Posts: 73
Location: West Salem, WI

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2007 6:20 am Reply with quote Back to top

I think the more permission requests or approval asking or regulation by authorities is a slippery slope. I could see over regulation, really limiting the creative juices. Most often rules are put in place to generate money and the exercise power and control IMO.
 
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