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Geocaching Now Permitted In Minnesota State Parks

September 26, 2006

Geocaching, a recreational activity involving the use of a hand-held Global Positioning System (GPS), will now be allowed in Minnesota state parks and recreation areas, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced today.

“The GPS units are used to locate either virtual or actual ‘caches’ in a specific location,” said Courtland Nelson, director of the DNR Division of Parks and Recreation. “Virtual geocaching usually involves selecting something like a scenic overlook or historic site in a park that participants would locate using the GPS coordinates.”

“The most common geocaches, however, involve placing an item or container in a location and sharing the coordinates on the Internet. Participants who find the cache container sign a logbook inside the container and can post their ‘find’ on an online log book.” Public interest in the geocaching hobby has grown right along with the interest in and availability of GPS units. In some cases, items placed in the container are removed and replaced with other items. Yet another form of geocaching is called letterboxing that involves using only clues, not GPS coordinates, to find the hidden container.

“We are pleased to be able to offer another recreational activity in Minnesota’s state parks and recreation areas,” Nelson said. “We look forward to working with geocaching participants to interpret the guidelines we have in place that protect Minnesota’s natural resources while they pursue their hobby.”

Guidelines for geocaching and letterboxing in Minnesota state parks were developed in cooperation with representatives from the geocaching community.

“Minnesota statutes state that outdoor recreation activities that do not cause material disturbance to a park’s natural features or introduce undue artificiality into the natural scene may be permitted,” said Nelson. “Geocaching and letterboxing conform with that definition as long as the caches are placed in locations that don’t negatively impact natural or cultural resources, visitor safety or other park users. The guidelines we have established are in place to inform participants of the criteria that need to be met.”

Groups or individuals who wish to place a cache in any state park can obtain a permit from the park or download a form from the Web. The permit needs to be signed and dated by the park manager where the cache will be placed. Each cache requires its own permit.

A complete set of guidelines and the permit form are available on the Minnesota state park home page at www.mnstateparks.info or call the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).


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