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rogheff
WGA Member



Joined: 2005-11-05
Posts: 348
Location: N42* ish x W87* ish

PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2007 12:40 pm Reply with quote Back to top

"Mr. Heffron:

Thank you for your inquiry. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation
has reviewed geocaching activities and does not allow it in rest areas,
welcome centers or seasonal waysides for reasons of liability and safety.

Robert Spoerl
WisDOT - DTSD - Bureau of Highway Operations"


Since there's geocaches in just about every rest area in the state, a number of people (myself included) are now violating this order.

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[url]www.rogheffgeocaching.homestead.com[/url]Rogheff's geocaching website

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LightningBugs Mum
WGA Member



Joined: 2004-09-26
Posts: 1604
Location: Fort Atkinson, WI

PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2007 1:48 pm Reply with quote Back to top

greyhounder is the one who is on the front line of this issue, but as it stands right now my understanding is thay are not willing to look at allowing geocaching at this time. It's kinda dumb seeing as how Minnesota actually encourages geocaching at their rest areas.

One of the motives of our adopt-a-highway efforts (besides the obvious CITO) is to show the DOT that we are actually good guys. Maybe it will change somebody's mind someday.
 
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zuma
WGA Member



Joined: 2006-01-30
Posts: 5559
Location: Eau Claire

PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2007 2:18 pm Reply with quote Back to top

If you want to send an email advocating that geocaches be allowed in waysides, they would be most effective if you wrote to the Senator or Assembly rep in your area. Here is a list of the transportion committee members, by region:

Roger Breske, Eland (chair) Email Sen.Breske@legis.wisconsin.gov

Jeffrey Plale, South Milwaukee Email: Sen.Plale@legis.wisconsin.gov

Jon Erpenbach, Middleton Email: Sen.Erpenbach@legis.wisconsin.gov

David Hansen, Green Bay Email Sen.Hansen@legis.wisconsin.gov

Dan Kapanke, La Crosse Email Sen.Kapanke@legis.wisconsin.gov

Dale Schultz, Richland Center Email Sen.Schultz@legis.wisconsin.gov

Joseph Leibham , Sheboyagan Email Sen.Leibham@legis.wisconsin.gov

Dean Kaufert, Neenah (chair) Email Rep.Kaufert@legis.wisconsin.gov

Mary Williams, Medford Email Rep.WilliamsM@legis.wisconsin.gov

Scott Gunderson, Waterford Email Rep.Gunderson@legis.wisconsin.gov

Garey Bies, Sister Bay Email Rep.Bies@legis.wisconsin.gov

J.A. Hines, Oxford, Email Rep.Hines@legis.wisconsin.gov

Karl VanRoy, Green Bay Email Rep.VanRoy@legis.wisconsin.gov

Terry VanAkkeren, Sheboygan Email Rep.VanAkkeren@legis.wisconsin.gov

James Soletski, Green Bay Email Rep.Soletski@legis.wisconsin.gov

Ann Hraychuch, Balsam Lake Email Rep.Hraychuck@legis.wisconsin.gov

Leon Young, Milwaukee Email Rep.Youngl@legis.wisconsin.gov

Marlin Schneider, Wisconsin Rapids Email Rep.Schneider@legis.wisconsin.gov

The WGA is only as strong as our fine members. If you want the WGA to do something about geocaches in waysides, please take the time to contact one of the legislators listed above, who can correct the currently unenforced policy.

I have supplied the email addresses. If you want phone numbers or snail mail address they can be found at;

http://www.legis.state.wi.us/leginfo/CommPages/IndividualCommittees.aspx?committee=Tourism,%20Recreation%20and%20State%20Properties&house=Assembly

zuma

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zuma
WGA Member



Joined: 2006-01-30
Posts: 5559
Location: Eau Claire

PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2007 2:21 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Dear Senator,

It has recently came to my attention that the Wisconsin DOT has chosen not to allow geocaching in waysides, and I am writing you to see how we can correct this misquided policy.

Here is the statement that is from a DOT newsletter: ""The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has reviewed geocaching activity information in March 2005 and has indicated that it will not be allowed at Department roadside facilities. This is something that the Department cannot allow at rest areas, Wisconsin Welcome Center's, or even at their waysides for reasons of liability/safety. They do not wish to open the door to other activities such as paintball, regular sports activities/leagues, ultimate frisbee, etc. all of which present problems. They will not allow any of this type of activity at any of their roadside facilities. Any geocaching activity that has already been initiated should be terminated. The Department has no problem with this "geocaching" activity in and of itself - it just doesn't belong in the Department's roadside facilities."

I say that this is misquided because the DOT wayside facilities are built at great public expense to improve highway safety and to promote tourism in our great state. The placement of geocaches at the waysides does both of these things, and at no cost to the state's taxpayers.

In case you are not familiar with what a geocache is, I will refer you to www.geocaching.com for more information. But basically it is a game where a person hides a box or a stash in an out of the way place, provides the GPS coordinates to others playing the game on www.geocaching.com, and then others then go out and find it.

Geocaches at highway rest stops are helpful for highway safety because they give a person a reason to walk in the woods when they stop at the wayside, and get a little fresh air and reinvigorate themselves.

Geocaching is also becoming an important part of Wisconsin's tourism and people playing the game tend to go to areas where there are significant numbers of geocaches.

Geocaches are allowed in DOT waysides in all of our neighboring states, so the WI DOT position on this is a bit out of line with practice elsewhere. For example, there is a cache on I-80 in Iowa that has been visited 270 times. (See http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?guid=1d37aa40-b873-45cc-9b74-33ff429b000e for details), I personally enjoyed stopping at the Belvidere Oasis cache in Illinois along the turnpike, which helped break up the drive. (See http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?guid=b7d902c3-765e-4819-b976-625520b8f538 for details.) And I have visited many of the highway waysides in Minnesota, including the the I-94 wayside as you enter Minnesota, which was a nice walk from the welcome center,and helped promote Minnesota tourism. (See http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?guid=21c79a86-4008-4ff4-97c9-bec091a73c5c for details.) Michigan also allows geocaches in their waysides, though I have not personally visited any yet. (For details of one on Highway 2, just north of your district, see http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?guid=cceacad3-171c-4061-963f-5e9988e8b51f .)

Interestingly, the Wisconsin DOT has not communicated any prohibition of geocaching in any kind of official way, so there are currently many geocaches in Wisconsin's waysides and rest areas. This is a good thing, both for driver safety and for tourism. My concern is that the misguided policy statement quoted above by a DOT underling will become official policy by the department, and that all geocaches in Wisconsin's waysides will have to be removed.

This letter is a request that you investigate the matter with the department. Before any official policy is made the benefits of geocaches related to improving driver safety and tourism in the state should be weighed against any realistic potential of liability.

Thank you for your interest in this matter.

I may be reached at ralphruok(at)yahoo.com

Sincerely,
Ralph Edwards

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rogheff
WGA Member



Joined: 2005-11-05
Posts: 348
Location: N42* ish x W87* ish

PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2007 2:45 pm Reply with quote Back to top

I'm guessing that if the DOT knew about all the guardrail caches across the state, they'd have the same opinion of them.

I'd be more than happy to address the issue of rest area caches with the DOT. However, I do believe that the WGA would have more influence than one lone cacher as it represents hundreds or thousands of geocachers across the state.

I do not have the authority to speak for the WGA, that's why I brought up the subject. I was not aware that it was already being worked on.

So essentially, every rest area cache should be archived? Boy, did I unknowingly open a Pandora's Box?

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[url]www.rogheffgeocaching.homestead.com[/url]Rogheff's geocaching website

[url]www.diamondwillow.homestead.com[/url] Rogheff's Hiking Stick website
 
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PCFrog
WGA Member



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

PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2007 3:27 pm Reply with quote Back to top

rogheff wrote:
"Mr. Heffron:

Thank you for your inquiry. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation
has reviewed geocaching activities and does not allow it in rest areas,
welcome centers or seasonal waysides for reasons of liability and safety.

Robert Spoerl
WisDOT - DTSD - Bureau of Highway Operations"


Since there's geocaches in just about every rest area in the state, a number of people (myself included) are now violating this order.


This is the same info I basically got 1 year ago when I approached them about a rest stop in my area. Around that same time the welcome center in lacrosse actually asked me about putting an geocache out on their land. After a few weeks I learned that came to an end as well. Their is a cache their but on a public trail.
 
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greyhounder
WGA Member



Joined: 2004-01-18
Posts: 3342
Location: Fort Atkinson, WI, USA

PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2007 8:03 pm Reply with quote Back to top

At this point -- my conversations with the DOT are leading to NOs. They are aware that Minnesota has a provision for geocaching, and they know that geocaches are at rest areas around the US. However, they do not want them at Wisconsin Rest Areas, and have told me that if they learn of such placement, they will be removed (hinting at possible littering fines as well -- although finding the owner would be a problem, I'm sure).

At this point, under the radar is the best option -- the more the DOT knows, the stronger their stance against them will be. We are making small inroads to get on the good side of the DOT through our involvement in Adopt A Highway (please, everyone help out with this -- numbers look good!)

This will take some time, and may be best worked on in a subtle manner rather than a campaign, but I am one person with one opinion. Do whatever you think is best.

Bec

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rogheff
WGA Member



Joined: 2005-11-05
Posts: 348
Location: N42* ish x W87* ish

PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2007 7:03 am Reply with quote Back to top

"under the radar" and "get permission" contradict each other. I archived mine.

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TyeDyeSkyGuy
WGA Member



Joined: 2007-03-18
Posts: 2231
Location: Kenosha, WI

PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2007 9:52 am Reply with quote Back to top

What possible "liability" could the state have??? It sounds more like an excuse.
 
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zuma
WGA Member



Joined: 2006-01-30
Posts: 5559
Location: Eau Claire

PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2007 10:45 am Reply with quote Back to top

tyedyeskyguy wrote:
What possible "liability" could the state have??? It sounds more like an excuse.


Claims of "liability" is the first choice of low-level beauracrats everywhere to explain a no response to an inquiry where there is no genuine reason for the negative response, other than the fact that they dont feel like doing their job.

To actually determine "liability," one would require an evaluation of potential risks and potential benefits, which is why I point out in my letter that the benefits of geocaching in waysides is significant. That is, drivers who walk around at a wayside are likely to be more prepared to drive again once back on the road again and more mentally alert.

The second way to determine "liability' would be to do a review of case law and take a look if anyone has ever brought suit as a result of geocaching activities at a state wayside. Neither the beauracrats who wrote that there was liabilty concerns or myself who is sure there is none have actually done this, but I think the results are pretty predictable, without the leg work.

And of course the third way to determine "liability" is common sense. If a geocacher falls and is injured while walking on public property is he more likely to sue the state for his injuries than a nongeocacher? Does geocaching really lead to games of paintball breaking out? Is it reasonably likely that geocachers will play a little Ultimate Frisbee on the way back from the cache, and knock over an old lady in a walker?

Anyway, that is my take on "liability." Frankly there is not a thing more of a red flag to me personally, than a beauracrat's claim of "liability" because it is almost always wrong and is almost always given because they are too lazy to think of a real excuse for their wrong decision and they dont think your inquiry is really worthy of their efforts.

Just my opinion, and I could be wrong.

zuma

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Frizz
WGA Member



Joined: 2007-03-30
Posts: 457
Location: Green Bay WI

PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2007 11:32 am Reply with quote Back to top

Expanding on what Zuma said, when the DOT says they have "reviewed geocaching activities", that means that they probably heard either 2nd or 3rd hand misinformation about geocaching, and again are too lazy or incompetent to actually perform their job and do what is clearly in the public interest. Like the officials in Brown County, they are trying to regulate a problem that does not exist. I think that lobbying by the WGA is clearly the best way to deal with this situation. If progress cannot be made with low level employees, maybe it is time to go to the next level of state government, where there is a bit more accountability to the public.

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steveherrick
WGA Member



Joined: 2007-02-26
Posts: 21

PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2007 8:53 am Reply with quote Back to top

I e-mailed my Representative.
I'll let you know what response I get if any.
 
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abcdmCachers
WGA Member



Joined: 2004-09-25
Posts: 135
Location: Brookfield, WI

PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2007 12:35 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Just noticed a thread in the groundspeak.com forums concerning liability. This link was posted showing statutes for each state for recreational use of property:
http://tarlton.law.utexas.edu/dawson/recreate/wi_rec.htm

As I read through, my eyes glazed over and my head hit the keyboard when I fell asleep due to excessive legaleze, but I did read far enough to notice this in section 2b:
Quote:
Except as provided in subs. (3) to (6), no owner and no officer, employee or agent of an owner is liable for the death of, any injury to, or any death or injury caused by, a person engaging in a recreational activity on the owner's property


Owner, in this case, includes a governmental body. I have no idea if this pertains to this situation, but seems pretty clear to me at least that liability is not a valid reason to disallow geocaching. Any lawyers out there care to offer an opinion on wheter this would prevent someone from suing for an injury caused while geocaching?
 
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TyeDyeSkyGuy
WGA Member



Joined: 2007-03-18
Posts: 2231
Location: Kenosha, WI

PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2007 12:56 pm Reply with quote Back to top

[quote="abcdmCachers"]

As I read through, my eyes glazed over and my head hit the keyboard when I fell asleep due to excessive legaleze, but I did read far enough to notice this in section 2b:
Quote:
Except as provided in subs. (3) to (6), no owner and no officer, employee or agent of an owner is liable for the death of, any injury to, or any death or injury caused by, a person engaging in a recreational activity on the owner's property
quote]

Thanks for that. I used it in an e-mail I sent to my representative.
 
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zuma
WGA Member



Joined: 2006-01-30
Posts: 5559
Location: Eau Claire

PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2007 2:04 pm Reply with quote Back to top

[quote="tyedyeskyguy"]
abcdmCachers wrote:


As I read through, my eyes glazed over and my head hit the keyboard when I fell asleep due to excessive legaleze, but I did read far enough to notice this in section 2b:
Quote:
Except as provided in subs. (3) to (6), no owner and no officer, employee or agent of an owner is liable for the death of, any injury to, or any death or injury caused by, a person engaging in a recreational activity on the owner's property
quote]

Thanks for that. I used it in an e-mail I sent to my representative.


Thanks for sending the email tyedyeskyguy!

My only quibble is that you used the more polite quote provided by abcdmcachers instead of my own: "beauracrat's claim of "liability" because it is almost always wrong and is almost always given because they are too lazy to think of a real excuse for their wrong decision and they dont think your inquiry is really worthy of their efforts."

LOL. I guess maybe you chose the better quote after all.

Thanks again for being willing to help with this important issue.

zuma

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