Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Written by Michigan Geocaching Organization   
Saturday, 02 August 2008
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After almost 4 years of negotiating with the DNR, MiGO is very pleased to announce that we have reached a new level of partnering, and have agreed upon some very important Guidelines and Procedures for Geocaching on *all* DNR approved lands! The scope of this historic agreement covers all 4 divisions of the DNR, and outlines the procedure for placing Geocaches, with DNR approval. Best of all, perhaps, is that the individual fee to place a Geocache is no longer going to be enforced. Instead, MiGO, as an organization, will pay a blanket permit, that covers the *entire* state!

We would also like to thank each and every one of our responsible Geocachers. It is part and parcel because of your willingness to proactively be good stewards of our land, and demonstrate your cooperativeness with regards to partnering with the DNR, that makes this possible at all. So you all are to be congratulated individually, and as an Organization, for paving the way to this historic agreement with the DNR!

  
General Information

The Department of Natural Resources is responsible for the stewardship of Michigan's natural resources and for the provision of outdoor recreational opportunities; a role it has relished since creation of the original Conservation Department in 1921.

  
Geocaching Information
Seeking

Seeking of caches is open to visitors of all Parks and Recreation managed areas of DNR land.

Placement
In State Game or Wildlife Areas
  • Geocaching in State Game or Wildlife Areas is currently forbidden.
  • This does not include State Park and Recreation Land (See Below)
In State Park and Recreation Land
  • Physical caches will require a permit.
  • Individual Use Permits may be issued for a period not to exceed one year.
  • The person applying for an Individual Use Permit for placing a Geocache must be a full member, in good standing, (not just a registered user) with MiGO.
  • The person applying for the permit shall provide a valid address and telephone number as well as a location specification and listing of the initial cache items.
  • The cache placement location, including GPS coordinates, must be stated on the permit and approved by the Unit Supervisor (or the appointed representative) to minimize undesirable impacts to cultural and natural resources as well as minimize hazards to the public.
  • A specific time period, of up to one year, when a cache may be left in place shall be designated to minimize the creation of spur trails. At the end of the designated time period the cache is to be removed or moved and the website posting retired, or changed to reflect the new positioning, by the permit holder. The permit holder shall also communicate these changes to the Unit Supervisor. The actual time period the cache is permitted to be in one place will not exceed one year.
  • Caches may not be buried, nor may vegetation, logs, stones, etc. be unnecessarily disturbed when selecting cache locations. Cache containers are to be transparent and have some form of latch or other closure to deter wildlife.
  • Cache containers shall also have some identifying markings or a sticker (available online through MiGO), that identifies the container as a bona fide Geocache.
  • Staff will be authorized to remove any cache that does not meet these requirements.

Note: In order to get a permit for placing a cache in a State Park, you'll need to go that park's office and and talk with the manager regarding exactly where you wish to place the cache. After getting the blessing from that person, he or she should be able to provide a permit for you to fill out. (As noted below, MiGO members are covered under the blanket permit, and are not subject to the $35 placement fee applicable to non-members.)


Full Agreement between MI-DNR and MiGO

Michigan Department of Natural Resources Geocaching Policy

Geocaching involves the placement of a container (a cache) with various items within it in a specific location and then posts the Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates to a website, and another person goes looking for it. This activity started soon after the U.S. Department of Defense turned off the selective availability of the GPS signals in May of 2000. This improved the accuracy of most recreational GPS units to 10 - 20 meters. Contents of the cache consist of assorted items and typically involve the exchange of items. Another aspect of this activity is virtual caching. This does not involve the actual placement of a cache; rather, coordinates are provided for a specific location where there is a unique natural feature, park sign, etc. The Groundspeak site, which oversees the activity of Geocaching, has decided to spin off new virtual caches as Waymarks. The prior, existing virtual caches are grandfathered into the Geocaching site.

Geocaches have been placed in our State Forests, State Parks, Recreation Areas and Boating facilities without the approval of unit staff. These placements have resulted in the following concerns:
  • Caches being placed in sensitive natural or cultural areas.
  • Caches containing inappropriate or dangerous items.
  • Caches leading to the creation of spur trails resulting in resource damage and the possibility of visitors leaving established trails and becoming lost.
  • Caches placed in dangerous or inappropriate areas such as on a cliff or underwater.
  • The location of a cache inviting the public into an area we do not inspect for hazards.
  • Caches placed in areas where conflicts with other recreational users may occur.

PROCEDURE

In consideration of the above concerns it has been decided to manage geocaching through the use permit procedure. If this activity is found to have a negative impact on the unit resources or presents public safety issues, the Unit Supervisor may ban, with District Supervisor approval, geocaching from specific unit areas or the entire facility. The following conditions are to be addressed when issuing a geocaching use permit:

  • Physical caches will require a permit.
  • Individual Use permits may be issued for a period not to exceed one year.
  • Person applying for an Individual Use Permit for placing a Geocache must be a full member, in good standing, (not just a registered user) with MiGO.
  • The person applying for the permit shall provide a valid address and telephone number as well as a location specification and listing of initial cache items.
  • The cache placement location, including GPS coordinates, must be stated on the permit and approved by the Unit Supervisor (or the appointed representative) to minimize undesirable impacts to cultural and natural resources as well as minimize hazards to the public.
  • Geocaches must adhere to the published guidelines for creating and placing a cache. Those guidelines may be found here: MiGO Geocaching Guidelines
  • A specific time period, of up to one year, when a cache may be left in place shall be designated to minimize the creation of spur trails. At the end of the designated time period the cache is to be removed or moved and the web site posting retired, or changed to reflect the new positioning, by the permit holder. The permit holder shall also communicate these changes with the Unit Supervisor. The actual time period the cache is permitted to be in one place will not exceed one year.
  • Caches may not be buried, nor may vegetation, logs, stones, etc. be unnecessarily disturbed when selecting cache locations.
  • Cache containers are to be transparent and have some form of latch or other closure to deter wildlife. Cache container shall also have some identifying markings or a sticker (available online through MiGO), that identifies the container as a bona fide Geocache.
  • Contents of the cache are subject to inspection by park staff at any time. Field staff will have the authority to remove any items deemed unacceptable. Any items placed in the Geocache that is prohibited by the Department may be cause for removal. All contents of the cache must be with Geocaching’s guidelines. Items prohibited include food, alcohol, drugs, medications of any type, pornography, weapons of any type, pyrotechnics, commercial advertising or any other matter deemed in appropriate by the Department. A logbook is required and to be supplied by the person placing the Geocache.
  • Staff will be authorized to remove any cache that does not meet these requirements.
  • Geocaches are prohibited in designated natural areas, Pittman-Robertson funded properties, archeological sites and other areas on concern as designated by the Supervisor with review from the Stewardship Unit.
  • Failure to abide by use permit conditions may jeopardize the ability of that individual to obtain future permits for caches. Language to that effect will be included in the use permit conditions.
Geocaches and their contents that are removed by unit staff are to be documented in an incident report. Unit staff should periodically review the geo-caching websites to monitor caches placed within their unit.

Geocaching web sites are:
   http://www.geocaching.com
   http://www.mi-geocaching.org

Geocaching Maps
MiGO proposes to create, maintain, and update online maps that shall be available to the public. These maps will show the various State Forest, Park and Recreation, and Hatcheries and Boatways, and also show any areas open to Geocaching The maps will be updated to reflect changes in the conditions of the various areas. This will allow the public to look online at a map, and determine if the proposed location of a Geocache is within open or closed land.
Mapping could be done through many different online providers, including Google, yahoo, Terraserver, MapQuest, MapPoint, and others. At this time, it may be prohibitive to use Esri Arc Shapes. MiGO has members statewide, so we could provide the Unit Manager a map. Once the database has been built by MiGO, they could also interact with the local Unit Managers on a timely basis to insure up to date information.

Enforcement of Guidelines
MiGO proposes to maintain a healthy Geocaching environment for all to participate in. Geocachers who place caches in DNR approved lands must be full members, in good standing, with MiGO. This means that MiGO will have a member-supplied address and telephone number of the person, or team.
When a cache becomes non-compliant, the Unit Manager shall attempt to communicate that with the person who placed the cache. If the Unit Manager is unsuccessful at communicating with the person, the Unit Manager will have the cache removed, and notify the cache owner and MiGO.

Approval and Review of Proposed Geocaches
MIGO shall maintain, within its membership, a person who is also a Reviewer for the Geocaching site. This reviewer must meet all the requirements for being a Reviewer for Geocaching. Rusty Payne, (aka Rusty) is currently a Reviewer for the Groundspeak website.
Further, MiGO shall also have a DNR Liaison Officer (through Parks and Recreation Division) to act as the point of contact between the two agencies. The Liaison Officer will directly report to the Board of Directors for MiGO, and also interact with the DNR personnel in charge of the various land use areas. The Reviewer and the Liaison Officer will consult, as needed, and work together to assist the DNR in any and all issues concerning Geocaching. Currently, Jamie Rich, (aka Sandrich) who is a member of the Board of Directors is the Liason Officer.

Local Assistance by MiGO
MiGO will also have available local geocachers to assist the various DNR approved land managers. Wherever possible, a MiGO member can volunteer to be a point of contact with his or her local DNR areas. This will give the DNR local manager, a local MiGO member to review caches, and to foster a good, working relationship between the organizations.

Creation of website links
MiGO and the DNR will provide up to date links for the other’s websites. These may include (but not be limited to) maps, events, announcements, and notices. MiGO may also create a Forum on it’s website for the purpose of having both DNR, and MiGO personnel discuss issues and events.

Coordination of Events
MIGO will be happy to assist the DNR in the coordination of any Geocaching related Events. The DNR will need to keep MiGO informed, on as timely a basis as possible, about upcoming events that may feature, or include, Geocaching Cache In, Trash Out (or CITO) Events, and also Go Get Outdoors (GGO) are just 2 types of events that would showcase both organization’s work, and complement the community’s involvement. Prior planning and scheduling of these types of Events will highlight the best efforts of both organizations.

Partnering of Agencies
Entering into this type of partnering will benefit both organizations. The DNR would have secured expertise (that it would not have otherwise) in a field that is relatively new. Plus the DNR will have the only state-wide organization (with respect to Geocaching) to help monitor caches, plan events, and inform the community. MiGO would gain the security, of being part of the process, of insuring that many acres of land (that would not be available otherwise) will be available for enjoying the sport of Geocaching.
Together, both the DNR and MiGO will have willing partners to work with in the continued growth of the sport. Each agency will benefit directly as the levels of communication are opened and maintained. Planning mutual Events will only enhance the positioning of the sport, and also of both groups.

Blanket Permit
DNR may issue to MiGO a Use Permit to cover Geocaching on all DNR approved lands. Individual cachers must still continue to obtain, and use, the Individual Use permits, and all other Geocaching Guidelines.
The cost of this General Permit shall be $500.00, for the calender year of 2007 and may be renewed annually (by mutual agreement). Any Geocaches not covered by this permit with MiGO will require a separate permit and are subject to all qualifications applied to MiGO.  

Last Updated ( Sunday, 03 August 2008 )