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> Park Liaison Program, Pairing members with parks for mutual benefit
hydnsek
post Mar 5 2010, 01:19 AM
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In the Park Liaison Program (PLP), a WSGA member is paired with a park system to help them with geocaching activities. In recent years, parks have come to recognize that geocaching is a popular, family-oriented activity, and are looking for ways to support it with limited staff and resources. The PLP helps parks embrace geocaching without compromising their goals or adding to their overhead.

The Park Liaison Program is another way in which WSGA is working with Washington parks at all levels (city, county, state, federal) to create mutually beneficial relationships and ensure continued access for geocachers – part of the club’s founding mission. The Liaison puts a face on geocaching and provides a go-to person for park personnel. In turn, WSGA builds trust with the park system by self-managing our activity, ensuring greater support and faster resolution should problems arise. Groundspeak has expressed its appreciation and support for our program, and offered to help if needed.

There's a PDF version of the Park Liaison Program announcement / particulars, if you want forward it to someone or need a printed copy.

I piloted the liaison approach in 2008-2010 at Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, the flagship of King County Parks. Its success has cemented a positive relationship with KCP, from the director down to staff at its 180 parks. This led to other park systems asking to participate, and the Park Liaison Program was born. To date, the Liaison Program has mitigated issues in several parks, persuaded Seattle City Parks to reintroduce geocaching at Discovery Park, and led to the first physical caches in North Cascades National Park. Other parks see the mutual benefits of this program and are asking to participate.

Regime change, October 2013: I'm thrilled to announce the appointment of Louie Bliss (Nicole Bliss) as the new Park Liaison Manager. A former Groundspeak lackey with experience working with park systems, she is the perfect person to lead and evolve the program, working with our geocaching liaisons and the land managers. Please contact her about park issues going forward, or if you're interested in becoming a liaison.

Below are the park systems currently in the program and their liaisons. In some cases, there are specific parks in the Liaison Program, with the backing of their larger park system. (Updated 11/12/13)
  • King County Parks (Cougar Mountain) – hydnsek
  • Snohomish County Parks (Lord Hill and Paradise Valley) – GrievousAngel
  • Kitsap County Parks - Cool Cow Cachers
  • Seattle City Parks (Discovery Park) – rodgowdy
  • Bellevue City Parks - Louie Bliss
  • Kent City Parks - Peach&Pete
  • Everett City Parks - Johnny_Boy_
  • Marysville City Parks - FluteFace
  • Mt Vernon City Parks - VonDeets
  • Ferndale City Parks (Whatcom Cty) - Radmando & Sons
  • Anacortes City Parks and Community Forest Lands (ACFL) - Jimmerbowl (Ponder&Wander)
  • Richland, Pasco, Kennewick city parks (Tri-Cities) - enjoydmoment
  • North Cascades National Park Service Complex – hydnsek
  • Washington State Parks (WSPRC), statewide - hydnsek
    • Camano Island and Cama Beach – Rey del Roble
    • Rockport and Rasar - BrewerMD
    • Saint Edward (Kirkland) - PhilNi
    • Larrabee (Bellingham) - PNWbrat
    • Upper Cowlitz area: Ike Kinswa, Lewis & Clark, Seaquest, Mount St. Helens, Matilda Jackson, Jackson House - rocketglider
    • San Juan Islands parks - Moran, Lime Kiln Point, Spencer Spit, et al. - las3dogs
    • Green River area: Nolte, Green River Gorge, Flaming Geyser, Kanaskat-Palmer - TheMcMorrows
    • North Whidbey area: Deception Pass, Joseph Whidbey, Fort Ebey - Crouchcrew

We also work with park systems outside the Park Liaison Program, including:
  • Mount Rainier NP - K2D2 (park ranger)
  • Olympia city parks - ohjoy!
  • Burien city parks
  • Renton city parks

What does a Park Liaison do? The specifics vary from park to park, but may include:
  • Ensuring geocachers adhere to park regulations. If a park says “no off-trail use,” all caches must be by a trail (specific distance defined – at Cougar Mountain, it’s 10 feet). “Day use only” – no night caching is permitted. If certain park areas are off-limits due to sensitive habitat or safety issues, no cache placements will be allowed.
  • Ensuring geocachers adhere to geocaching.com guidelines on placement, especially those under Off-Limit (Physical) Caches. We don’t bury caches, screw things into trees, deface property, contribute to habitat destruction, etc. Mantra: “What would the ranger think?”
  • Working with park personnel to create and/or implement caching guidelines for their lands. These may be informal, enforced by the Liaison, or written up as a public document. In most cases, cache placements can be overseen by the Liaison without a formal permitting or approval process by the park, as has been demonstrated over the past two years at Cougar Mountain, which has a strict no-off-trail policy.
  • Physically visiting cache placements to ensure they adhere to guidelines and minimize environmental impact (e.g., social trails, foliage damage).
  • Monitoring caches and addressing problems if the owner is not responsive, up to and including removing caches if required.
  • Contacting cache owners and working with them to mitigate any problems that arise.
  • Keeping park personnel informed about cache placements on their land, and promptly addressing any problems identified by park staff.
  • Educating park personnel about geocaching and its benefits, such as raising awareness, educating visitors, and increasing attendance.
  • Taking park personnel geocaching to familiarize them with the activity, show them cache placements in their parks, and get their feedback.
  • Helping park personnel place caches to further their educational and outreach goals.
  • Streamlining the park’s interactions with Groundspeak by serving as a conduit to the company and reviewers. This is particularly helpful if the park needs to clarify its boundaries, request cache removals or moratoriums, or otherwise present an official request.
  • Hosting CITO (Cache In, Trash Out) volunteer work parties to help the park. In addition to debris cleanup, a CITO event could be invasive-plant removal, native plant restoration, even trail-building - basically, whatever type of volunteer work the park needs.

Follow-up: Bryan and Jenn at Groundspeak both responded that they love the Liaison Program. Bryan said: "What a wonderful program! Congratulations to the WSGA. We will share it with the reviewers and let you know if there are any suggestions. Of course, if there is anything that Groundspeak can do to assist, please don't hesitate to contact Jenn or myself anytime."


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hydnsek
post Mar 16 2010, 03:03 PM
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The WSGA Parks Advocacy Committee is looking for additional folks to serve as Park Liaisons. Please contact me if you can help.

* Kitsap County Parks wants to join the Liaison Program - they have exciting news:

"My name is Lori Raymaker. I am the Park Stewardship Coordinator with Kitsap County Parks. I would love to have a liaison with Geocaching. We just received a grant through Puget Sound Starts Here to create and locate 60 geocache sites within the County. Most will be in the County Parks. We are just starting this program and could benefit from some expert advise from a seasoned geocacher, someone who knows all of the ins and outs and etiquette of geocaching. With a liaison I'm sure we will avoid making a lot of the "first timer" mistakes. Please feel free to contact me via email or phone. I look forward to working with your group.

Update: Thanks to Jomer & Traci for volunteering as our Kitsap County Parks Geocaching Liaisons. I know they'll do an outstanding job.

* The City of Burien is also a fan:

"Burien Parks is a fan of geocaching and believe it's a great way to recreate in our parks and a great family activity. We would like to promote geocaching in our parks so have decided to offer several classes on the subject. Thanks!" - Michael Lafreniere, Director of Parks, Recreation & Cultural Services

Update: Globalgirl was the geocacher doing these classes.


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hydnsek
post Apr 4 2010, 08:51 PM
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I'm thrilled to announce that, thanks to the ongoing efforts of the WSGA Parks Advocacy Committee and our new Park Liaison Program, today Caching Again in Discovery Park was published, the first cache in Seattle's Discovery Park since caches were banned there in November 2007. Read some background here.

After two years of disconnects, we met with Seattle City Parks on March 3, at which point they joined our Liaison Program and agreed to rescind their ban and reintroduce geocaching on a trial basis. WSGA member rodgowdy became their Geocaching Liaison. Thanks to rodgowdy, we now have a cache in Discovery, a CITO in the works, and a couple more caches in the wings. You go, guy!

This discussion is continued in the Caching returns to Discovery Park thread.


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hydnsek
post Aug 22 2010, 04:10 PM
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I'm pleased to announce that two more park systems have joined WSGA's Park Liaison Program. cool.gif
  • Bellevue City Parks is now on board, with me ( hydnsek ) as the geocaching liaison. This is a very positive development, as Bellevue had been considering severely restricting geocaching, and last October forced the archival of most caches in Mercer Slough. Initially, they were developing guidelines that would require permission for placements and limit locations, sizes, etc. We met last week, and after some discussion, they reconsidered and agreed to join the Liaison Program, relax the new guidelines, and allow us to manage caching activity as we do with other participating park systems. I expect the final guidelines to be published within a few weeks, followed by resolution of the Mercer Slough caches, and then followup regarding a few specific caches they are concerned about in other parks (e.g., Kelsey Creek).
  • Richland City Parks is our first system in Eastern WA, and enjoydmoment is their caching liaison. Enjoydmoment is a staff member with Richland Parks, and is sponsoring Richland's current Geocoin Challenge, which showcases the city's 100 years of history.


In other news:
  • The first two physical caches were just permitted in North Cascades National Park Service Complex. As you know, most National Parks continue to ban geocaching, but the NPS geocaching directive leaves it to individual park superintendents to make the final call. I've been working with North Cascades for two years as their geocaching liaison, and they've allowed earthcaches to date. Last week, after ongoing discussions, the superintendent signed off on my proposed physical placements, one in the South Unit of the park (Cascade Pass Trailhead) and the other in Ross Lake NRA (Gorge Dam Overlook). This is a huge win for geocaching in National Parks and the Pacific Northwest! More info in separate thread.
  • I met with Washington State Parks' designated geocaching representative, Kathy Hale, last week. Her role is statewide, mainly to ensure awareness and cooperation with WSP's geocaching directive among its parks, and to address any overarching issues. Specific geocaching concerns are left to the discretion of the individual parks. She invited me to submit a new blurb on geocaching for WSP's Activities page, saying she knew the current one could use updating. It's great that WSP has assigned a staff member as a geocaching contact, and that she's encouraging us to provide appropriate communications about our activity.


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hydnsek
post Oct 28 2010, 05:13 PM
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A big shout-out to new WSGA member Radmando & Sons , who initiated a geocaching discussion with the City of Ferndale (Whatcom County), and now Ferndale is the newest member of our Park Liaison Program, with Randy as their WSGA geocaching liaison. He even drafted a document explaining his geocaching liaison arrangement with Ferndale. You go, Randy! cool.gif

In his words:

My name is Randy Kaech (handle: Radmando & Sons). I've been living in Whatcom County since 1979, work at the Ferndale Post Office as the head clerk, coach chess in the Ferndale School District, and just got hooked on geocaching a few weeks back. So I emailed the City of Ferndale to see if I could place a cache in Cedar Creek Park. "What's geocaching?" They knew nothing about it.

I sent them an informational email with the usual links -- the YouTube video introducing geocaching, and the requirements for placing a geocache from geocaching.com. I also included a link to the Park Liaison Program and offered to be their Geocaching Liaison. Talked to the Public Works Director and the head of parks maintenance. I sensed a somewhat mixed reaction when I pulled up the Google map showing all the caches already existing on city property. Eventually, they agreed to allow geocaching and accepted my offer to help them. Of course, I wasn't assigned the role because of my geocaching experience, but because I'm an established member of the community whom they know and trust. (We work right across the street from each other.)

We drew up the simple document (below)* explaining my role. They also asked for a blurb to put on their website, also below.**

There you have it. Strange but true, newbie becomes Geoaching Liaison. Hope I didn't mess anything up by taking the initiative here in Ferndale. My next task is to thoughtfully and diplomatically introduce myself to the cache owners in town. I'll take any advice you may have! On anything!

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*Proposed Roles of Ferndale Parks Geocaching Liaison:

--Requests for geocache placement get routed to Liaison, removing burden from City of Ferndale.
--Liaison receives and files email from Geocacher that includes the following:

--Liaison works with the geocacher to educate them if guidelines above are not being followed, or if other issues arise.
--Upon request, liaison provides City of Ferndale with list and/or map of cache placements.

**Blurb for City of Ferndale website:
The City of Ferndale welcomes geocaching as a popular, family-oriented activity. Persons seeking permission to place a geocache must contact the City of Ferndale Geocaching Liaison, Randy Kaech, at [email protected]


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hydnsek
post Oct 22 2013, 10:02 PM
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The Park Liaison Program has expanded greatly over the past three years. We have added several new park systems and geocaching liaisons, all of which are listed in the first post. A few highlights:

Washington State Parks (WSPRC) - Our biggest coup to date, we collaborated on a new Geocaching Directive that's more friendly to cachers and also partnered on the current Washington State Parks Centennial GeoTour. Hydnsek continues as geocaching liaison for the state parks, bolstered by individual park liaisons as noted in the initial post.

Everett City Parks - Approached us in January 2013, as they as they were considering creating a permit system similar to the State Parks. We met with them, and after learning about WSGA's program, dropped the idea and Johnny_Boy_ became their caching liaison.

Mt Vernon City Parks - The parks manager heard a presentation on the TriCities geocoin challenge by enjoydmoment (Richland parks ranger/caching liaison) and is excited to do something similar in 2014 for the city's 125th anniversary. VonDeets became their liaison; he has been working with them on geocaching presentations and their proposed anniversary geochallenge.

Kitsap County Parks - Jomer & Traci were the original liaisons, but had to retire. Kitsap approached us in July for a new liaison, as they wanted to create geocaches in several parks. Kiyojohn volunteered as our new caching liaison, supported by swaninwa.

Anacortes City Parks and Community Forest Lands (ACFL) - Jimmerbowl (Ponder&Wander) is our intrepid caching liaison for the only city/county park system in the state that requires permits.


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hydnsek
post Oct 22 2013, 10:07 PM
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Regime change, October 2013: I'm thrilled to announce the appointment of Louie Bliss (Nicole Bliss) as the new Park Liaison Manager.

Nicole replaces me in WSGA's most important appointed position, which supports the club's founding purpose of working with land managers in support of geocaching. I founded the Park Liaison Program in February 2010, and it has grown to be a valuable asset to park systems and the geocaching community.

I can't think of a better person than Nicole to manage the Parks Liaison Program going forward. Like me, she has a particular interest in working with parks on geocaching, and she has experience doing this while she was at Groundspeak. So she's familiar with all the issues as well as the guidelines, and is ideally suited to advising parks and caching liaisons, as well as coming up with new and better approaches as geocaching continues to grow and evolve.

Nicole has already taken over the role, so please contact her regarding park issues, or if you're interested in becoming a liaison.


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Louie Bliss
post Oct 24 2013, 02:10 PM
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Hi folks, I'm excited to take over the Parks Liaison Program from hydnsek. One of my responsibilities as a Lackey at Groundspeak was working with land managers and park departments around the world in establishing permit systems, identifying problem caches and improving relations. Thus, this will be a relatively easy transition for me.

I also helped rewrite the Cache Placement Guidelines and enforced them or clarified when questioned. This will also be helpful in advocating for geocaching in parks.

Since I gave birth to Baby Bliss (Ethan) in April 2013, I no longer work with Groundspeak but will always have a family there.

If you are interested in working with a park or not sure how to go about it, I'm happy to help. I look forward to volunteering more with the WSGA! biggrin.gif
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PhatBldGuy
post Oct 24 2013, 03:24 PM
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Welcome to the team Nicole. I am looking forward to bugging you with questions. smile.gif
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