PDA

View Full Version : Ouachita National Forest Caching



Dentful1
04-28-2008, 11:25 AM
I was going to put a cache in Glenwood named "USDA Approved." I went to our local National Forest office and gave them the run down on our great sport. They have heard of it and just recently had a meeting about it. I was directed to their Recreation Director to get approval. After a return phone call and listening to their guidelines I had to gasp for air when she told me about the fee. 8O Oh well. I guess there will be a cache nearby their facility with the name "Not Approved by USDA." :twisted:

Here is an email that I asked for so that I could post it on our website for all to see and have reference to. The fee is what is stopping me from putting a cache on their property. Let's be at least thankful that they are educated in our sport and are willing to allow us to use their property for a hiding spot. I can understand their policy, they don't want a million caches put out. The fee will put a limit to the number of caches that will be out there. No argument from me.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Hi, Aaron,
I would appreciate it if you would post the following information on the
arkansas geocaching website.


If you want to place a geocache on National Forest, a special use permit is
needed. The proposal should include the following information: the GPS
coordinates, the size of the geocache (the maximum size allowed is 12
inches on any side), a description of the geocache container, your name
and address. Acceptable geocache containers are non-breakable, animal
resistant and have a closing mechanism to prohibit the content's exposure
to wildlife and the environment. Containers must be permanently marked
with the permitttee's permit identification, name, address and telephone
number.

Geocaches may not contain food, alcohol, tobacco, weapons of any type,
fireworks, drugs, or other similar items. Geocaches may not be buried or
hidden under water or placed in dangerous, inappropriate or protected areas
and habitats (for example, designated wildernesses). A minimum fee for
the permit is required, In 2008, the fee is $ 57.00. The permit may be
granted for up to one year, if after evaluation of the proposal, the
decision is to authorize the permit.

A proposal can be filed at the appropriate National Forest office, which
can be found at the website, www.fs.fed.us (http://www.fs.fed.us). The address for the Ouachita
National Forest is PO Box 1270, Hot Springs, AR 71902.

Virtual geocaches do not require a permit. A virtual geocache is a
physical object that can be referenced through latitude and longitude, and
nothing is placed on the ground. An example would be a geologic or unique
feature or unusual landmark.

If you have any questions, please call me.

Thank you,


Elizabeth Gross
Recreation, Lands, Minerals
Caddo-Womble Ranger District
Ouachita National Forest
1523 Highway 270 East
Mt. Ida, AR 71957
870-867-4555, ext. 106
870-867-2101

oenavigator
04-28-2008, 05:36 PM
:D

Dentful1
04-28-2008, 06:50 PM
It does sound weird. I don't know what's going on. I ain't gonna mess with it. I am going to put my caches that I had planned on public access next to their property. If OEnavigator can get some explanation, please post it. I would like to know.

flannelman
04-28-2008, 07:27 PM
If this is the case then all of my caches will be achived. I can't pay 57 bucks for each cache I place. I thought this forest belonged to you and me. Don't we all pay taxes?? I don't mind a permit but a fee is outragous!!

Dentful1
04-28-2008, 07:37 PM
I can now agree with Flannelman. Our taxes do pay for these forests. I am beginning to get stirred a little. This may require some investigating. Does anybody have connections with the National Forest where we can get some inside info on to what is going on?

ChuckWalla
04-28-2008, 08:27 PM
This is all news to me. A couple of years ago, when the Ozark National Forest implemented their permit policy, I was given the name of a contact at the Ouachita National Forest office in Hot Springs, who was working on their policy. (The name I was given is not the same as that listed above. Also, I was told by the guy at the Ozark NF office that each national forest has to establish their own policy.) After repeated unanswered phone calls to this person, with a message left each time and no response ever provided, I finally gave up. I figured that they would get around to it eventually, but govt. agencies work very slowly. So I guess they have finally come up with a policy. But it all sounds fishy. I don't know of anyone who charges a fee for a geocache permit. I will need to see if I can get more information. In the meantime, hold off on any new hides you are planning to place in the Ouachita NF. Regarding caches that have already been placed, I will have to see if they are perhaps grandfathered.

Chuck Walla
Geocaching.com Volunteer Cache Reviewer

oenavigator
04-28-2008, 09:07 PM
:D

Dentful1
04-29-2008, 01:43 AM
All right, CW is on the job.
I talked to the receptionist and some guy at the Caddo Office in Glenwood. They gave me a name and number of the lady listed above and that is what she told me over the phone and finally got me the email to post on this website.

flannelman
04-29-2008, 02:18 PM
I'll call the Jessieville office and see if they know anything. Let ya know what I find out. I know they are going through a road usage plan right now so there are some changes coming to the forest. I don't think much will affect how we use the forest presently other than some road closings and seasonal use restrictions. Hopefully this is just some misinformation and it won't be the official policy.

QuartzCachers
04-30-2008, 07:15 AM
I know several of the guys that work at the Jessieville office. My mom used to work there. I used to live on the property as a sort of watchdog. I know them well. I will be paying them a visit TODAY!
I am with everyone else, permits fine. Fees NOT!
In the meantime, you may want to consider getting as many of mine as you can. If I have to pay a $57.00 fee per, they will be around as long as it takes them to be archived! :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil:

oenavigator
04-30-2008, 05:52 PM
:D

ChuckWalla
04-30-2008, 07:59 PM
I've talked with folks at the Ouachita National Forest offices and have also emailed them for more information. Unfortunately, you will not like what I found out. The bad news is that permits are now required and they do cost $57.00 per year.

Following are the two emails that I received today about this:

Email 1:

Hi,

As you requested, here is the Southern Region's direction regarding geocaching. If you have any questions, please call me.

Elizabeth Gross
Recreation, Lands, Minerals
Caddo-Womble Ranger District
Ouachita National Forest
1523 Highway 270 East
Mt. Ida, AR 71957

Region 8 Manual Supplement 2720, part 2724.44

2724.44 - Treasure Hunting

1. This designation includes the temporary placement of personal property for the purpose of geo-caching. 36 CFR 261.10(a) requires a special use authorization for occupancy and use of National Forest system land. This is further supported by 36 CFR 261.10(e) that prohibits abandoning personal property on National Forest system land.

2. Screen proposals to locate traditional (physical) caches using 36 CFR 251.54. Authorize traditional caches on FS 2700-5 Temporary Special Use Permit. The GPS coordinates of the caches must be included on the permit. Charge the regional minimum fee.

3. Traditional cache containers shall not exceed 12” on any side (height, width, or depth). Containers must be non-breakable, animal resistant, and have a closing mechanism to prohibit content exposure to wildlife and the environment. Containers must be permanently marked with the Holder’s permit ID, Name, address, and telephone number.
Caches may not contain food, alcohol, tobacco, weapons of any type, fireworks, drugs, or other similar items. Caches may not be buried or hidden under water. Caches may not be placed in dangerous, inappropriate, or protected areas and habitats.

4. Virtual caches do not require an authorization. A virtual cache is a physical object that can be referenced through latitude and longitude. A virtual cache could be a geologic or unique feature or unusual landmark. Encourage use of virtual caches opposed to
traditional caches.

5. Activities similar to geo-caching (for example, GPS Stash Hunt, Benchmark Hunting, Letterboxing, Geo-Poker) shall be administered in accordance with Geo-caching. Competitive events involving a participation fee will be authorized as a recreation event.

6. The activity of searching for geo-caches is a personal recreation pursuit and does not require an authorization.

7. Forests may adopt more restrictive policy on geocaching activities, such as restricting geocaching to virtual caches only.

Email 2:
(After receiving the email shown above, I asked several questions for clarification. This email responds to those questions.)

Mr. Walla,

Ms. Gross referred your questions to me for response.

Thank you for your comments and questions.

1. The minimum regional land use fee for 2008 is $57.00. Land use fees are adjusted annually according to an index similar to the consumer price index. Permits for caches are renewed on an annual basis if need be. Each year the cache is in place, there is a land use fee charged. The policy envisions that caches are temporary and would not be in the same location for more than a year.

2. The permit issued would be for a one-year period or less. If someone wanted the cache to be permitted for a longer period than a year, they could apply for another permit to replace the permit that would be expiring.

3. Currently, there no plans to add geocache information to the Ouachita web page. Persons wishing to locate a cache on the Ouachita NF should contact the nearest Ranger District to make application. District contact information is available on the Ouachita NF web page.

I reviewed the Ozark link you provided and found the information to be accurate; however, as you pointed out, information regarding land use fees is not given at the site. I am unaware of any geocache permits being issued on the Ozark without a land use fee being charged.

Land use fees for geo cache permits are set by Regional Manual supplements, and not by policy of the Ouachita NF. The minimum land use fee of $50 set by the region was considered to be a nominal amount when it was implemented in 2004. Since the Region periodically updates land use fees and revises policy, I will pass along your observation concerning the land use fee set for geo cache permits. The Ouachita NF follows Regional direction on issuing and administering this type of permit. There are regulations requiring land use fees for special use permits and these regulations can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations 36, Parts 200-299; specifically at 36 CFR 251 Subpart B, 251.57 (a). The Region 8 (Southern Region) Manual Direction previously provided to you gives direction to the Forests in the Southern Region on how to implement the special use Regulations as they pertain to geocaches. There is no National Policy concerning geocaching.

Thank you for your suggestion that the Forest communicate the Regional Geocache policy to Ouachita District staff. I forwarded your concerns to our Districts by email and sent them a copy of the Regional Geo cache policy for reference.

Since email has its limitations for effective communication, feel free to
contact me at ******* if you have any questions.

Elaine Sharp
Forester, Lands
Ouachita, NF

ChuckWalla
04-30-2008, 08:10 PM
Based upon what I have learned today, I will now require that new caches placed in the Ouachita National Forest have a permit from the NF.

Regarding caches that are currently in place, it is up to you whether you want to get a permit, pull your cache, or do nothing. I asked Ms. Gross if existing caches would be grandfathered and her response was that it was not high on their priority list to search for existing geocaches, see if they had a permit or not, and then notify the owner to pull the cache or get a permit. She did not ask me to do anything. So I will not advise anyone on what they should do about their existing caches, unless I get further direction.

I did inform the Forest Service folks, by telephone and by email, that I thought the prohibitive fee being charged would effectively kill geocaching in the Ouachita National Forest.

oenavigator
04-30-2008, 08:41 PM
:D

QuartzCachers
04-30-2008, 09:08 PM
WOW! I would say that I'm stunned, but the truth is, I'm a little sick at my stomach. We (all geocachers) will have to band together and fight this. I feel like we are being charged a fee that was devised for another use, say.. logging or mining. I, as do every one of you, believe this is an exhorbitant fee, imposed by someone who had to include our activity in some category, and that one just happens to have a land use fee, not in line with the extent of our activity.
With the state of our economy and other such important matters to tend to, I doubt if our concerns will merit much notice from our representatives, but I think that is probably where we should start.
I for one agree with OEnavigators, in that I will not be removing mine, until someone makes me.
Thanks CW, for checking on this for us.

oenavigator
05-01-2008, 03:51 PM
:D

ChuckWalla
05-01-2008, 07:07 PM
I am surveying the other Geocaching.com reviewers to see what geocache permit fees, if any, are charged by national forests in their areas. Several responses have been received and so far no other national forests have been charging a fee. Many still don't require a permit. I'll let you know the final results after I let the survey run a while longer.

relikborg
05-01-2008, 08:16 PM
I have a question. Will this potential fee include the Leatherwood wilderness near Mountain Home, or will it just be the National Parks?

AR-HICK
05-01-2008, 11:03 PM
I think it is about time that a few people get in touch with the Ouachita National Forest and discuss our point of view. Chuck Walla has been trying and is doing a lot to help us with this problem.
In my opinion this is just someone’s interpretation of a land use fee. I have placed a couple of caches in the Ozark National Forest without any trouble and with no mention of fees. If possibly a group representing the ArkGeo went down to talk with who sets the policy in the Ouachita NF this may go over before Smokey gets to close to the fire.
I think the board is already working on something, I hope. Can anyone from the board chime in?
This is very similar to the State Parks Banning Geocaching.
$57.00 would defiantly stop me from placing anymore caches.

Dentful1
05-02-2008, 06:03 AM
The Ouachita National Forest main office is in the Federal Building in Downtown Hot Springs. I will be there if we could get some "HIGH UP IN THE FOOD CHAIN" representatives from our organization to set up a meeting with the ONF. Being that Chuck Walla is our "Approver" of all caches in this area it would be nice to see him/her there as well. :wink: :lol: We can get name tags so that everybody knows who everybody is.

QuartzCachers
05-02-2008, 06:30 AM
I'm in! I think we should wait and see what the final results of CW's poll are though. We can't just walk into a federal office, and just start complaining. We will need facts and figures. If the ONF is the only NF trying to collect fees for this, I think that there is something that has been categorized improperly. I do agree with Dentful, in that we need someone high up on the food chain to speak for us. While I kinda like the idea of a mob descending upon the federal building in HS to get our point across, I don't think it wouldn't get us very far. Leavenworth maybe. Do they have any good caches in Leavenworth? :)

oenavigator
05-02-2008, 08:47 AM
:D

Gaddiel
05-02-2008, 10:59 AM
I'm glad to see so much interest in this issue!

ArkGeo's mission is one of "establishing and coordinating dialog and cooperation with landowners in addition to federal, state, and local agencies." This situation certainly falls well within our mission and will be a matter of much discussion among all of us, including the Board.

While we realize that this is an emotionally charged issue, we must also insure that the proper information is gathered and that it is accurate. As this information becomes available and as the situation develops, the Board will do our best to listen to you and to keep you informed.

One thing we would ask is that all members of ArkGeo help us to put forth a coordinated and united effort. If and when that time comes, you may be asked to help in supporting geocaching in Arkansas, although at this point, we don't know exactly what form that support may take.

However, our hope is that ArkGeo will be able to help to resolve this issue and find a solution that benefits all parties involved.

If you have suggestions or comments, please post them here or send them to me by using the PM or Email links at the bottom of this post.


Wayne Lunsford
President
Arkansas Geocachers Association

QuartzCachers
05-02-2008, 11:13 AM
O.K. Sounds to me like Wayne just said that they have the ball, and they are gonna run with it. I do believe that qualifies as higher up on the food chain. I am happy to do whatever is asked of me (short of burning Smokey in effigy in Hill Wheatly Plaza) to help resolve this issue.
I would just like to say thanks to the ArkGeo board, and to CW, for jumping on this for us. It is good to have an organization willing to step in and go to bat for us all. Without this group of folks, I would be feeling a little helpless right about now. I know that this issue affects some of us more than others, but in the long term, it affects us all. Thanks guys/gals! :)

Dentful1
05-02-2008, 12:35 PM
I agree with QC on that we have great cachers in elected positions that don't just sit there with their chest puffed out and nose in the air with a "TITLE." We have cachers in elected positions that do what is expected of them, to act on issues brought before them. We also have a great "approver" who is on top of issues brought up all of a sudden and acts swiftly after some research on both sides of the issue.

I also agree that we need to "sit" a little while to get as much information as we can, just as Gaddiel suggested. We don't want to go into a meeting with the Feds looking like a bunch of hillbilly's (No offense to AR-HICK :lol: ) who ain't got a clue as to what we are trying to get accomplished.

NOTE: AR-HICK is a very educated man in this wonderful sport. He has shown to the world via Channel 11 news that he can teach a thing or two on this sport. He is a great man but his Geo-Name gets in the way sometimes. :wink:

flannelman
05-02-2008, 03:01 PM
So I guess we will need to start paying a $57 fee to put our deerstands up for hunting season and get a pemit for that too. We will also need the same permit and fee to set up a tent and camp for a few days too I guess.


We need to all write letters to the FS office, our elected officials, and any other person that may be remotely associated with this. We also need to clog up their phone lines with angry calls. I'll be archiving my caches before the end of summer if there is not some reasonable resolution to this. I will also be actively opposing any and all regulations and fees that the FS tries to enact.

GeoJeepers
05-02-2008, 08:52 PM
Being a hillbilly from north central Arkansas, I have not had much experience in the National Forests. There is no question $57 is outreagous. :x I don't think I have ever cached there, but I plan to some day and this is something that could spread if we can't do something. I am thinking up front that the Managers that enacted this policy have NO IDEA how many caches, or especially how many Cachers have been in the NF to find them. To me I think this would be the kind of info we should present to them - they need to understand how many people they will be running off :o . One thing I am wondering...do you have to pay a fee to have access to these areas? I have been hiking in some areas that required a day use fee and I didn't know if there was anything like that required.

oenavigator
05-03-2008, 03:38 PM
:D

Team Panda
05-03-2008, 08:40 PM
Well, this is a hard blow indeed. With the casual stroke of a pen, practically 1/4 of the state of Arkansas has just been placed effectively off limits to Geocaching.


So I guess we will need to start paying a $57 fee to put our deerstands up for hunting season and get a pemit for that too. We will also need the same permit and fee to set up a tent and camp for a few days too I guess.

Will just hit the nail on the head and said what I've been thinking the whole time I was reading this thread.

There are NO fees for hunting or camping in the ONF. "Land Use" is not an issue. The only thing remotely close to a land use fee I've ever even heard of is the $25 dollar fee for private use logging, which entitles you to take up the 3 cords of wood out of the forest.

So basically, the fees run like this...

3 cords of wood......$25.00
1 Geocache............$57.00

Does this make sense to anyone else? No, I didn't think so.

Yes, the fee will effectively kill Geocaching anywhere within the ONF and this is almost certainly the point that needs to be driven home to the people responsible for this decision.

In this day of spending cutbacks and shrinking budgets, it may have occured to someone that Geocaching may be a "Cash Cow" just waiting to be milked. In short, this is nothing but another governmental money-making scheme. This is a theme I could belabor for many hours but I will refrain for the moment in hopes that a resolution to the issue can be found.

There is however, that pesky matter of precedence. If they're going to charge for a cache, they must then charge for a deer stand, camp site, or for that matter, trail use. While I'm sure there are those within the organization who would love to be able to do so, the public outcry at such a move prevents them from acting on their desire.

Personally, I think a letter writing campaign or any active form of protest will do nothing more than irritate an already unfriendly bureaucracy and cause them to only further entrench themselves in their position.

Let's face it. It is always far easier for a bureaucrat to say "NO" than it is for them to actually do something. "NO!" is in fact, the default government response to any request, no matter how reasonable.

So the question is, how many geocaching Lawyers do we have in Arkansas?

Additional thought...

Although this person says finding existing caches is a "low priority" we must always remember that yesterday's "low priority" becomes tomorrow's "major issue." Remember, a promise of non-prosecution is not protection under the law. If they are not willing to grandfather existing caches, I will be archiving and removing my caches within the ONF before some blood sucking wonk decides that caching without a permit is punishable by fine or imprisonment.

I highly recommend to the rest of you to go forth and do likewise.

Oh, one more thought...

No, I do not think that having to submit a proposal and get a permit, even if it is free, is acceptable. No proposals or permits are required for hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, canoeing, or anything else. Why should we be the exception?

DEEZER
05-04-2008, 09:59 PM
Okay, I'm just wondering, is this information coming from the Caddo-Womble Ranger district, or is it from headquarters? Are all the ranger districts in the Ouachita NF on the same page with this policy?

flannelman
05-05-2008, 02:55 PM
Well when I get ready to archive mins anyone who wishes to find them can go along and score the smilie right before I pull the cache. I'm not sure about all the ranger districts but I would think that they would have to follow whatever the main office for the forrest decides.

oenavigator
05-07-2008, 04:23 PM
:D

Team Panda
05-07-2008, 04:51 PM
It's been several days without any new developments on this vitally important issue and I have a few questions for the board members or whoever has been assigned to handle the matter.

1. Have there been any new developments? Has anyone spoken with any ONF or USDA personnel concerning this issue? If so, who was contacted?What was discussed" What if any results came of it? What future discussions are in the offing?

2. I've seen no mention on the forums of a board decision concering who will be the official liason with ONF and USDA or how AGA intends to address the problem. Have I missed it or does it not yet exist? If it does not yet exist, when can we expect it to be created?

3. I've also seen nothing like a thread where the board solicits the opinions of AGA members as to exactly what course of action and what "solutions" AGA cachers might find acceptable/unacceptable. Again, is there such and I've missed it or does it not exist? If not, when will it be created?

While this issue may not seem terribly important to some cachers living in other parts of the state, it is of supreme importance to those of us who live in the West Central Arkansas area.

For those of us specifically who live in the Hot Springs area, it is crucial beyond hyperbole. We are already heavily handicapped by the borders of the Hot Springs National Park, having the ONF effectively placed "off limits" to us leaves us very little viable caching ground. With these considerations in mind, I hope my rather demanding tone is at least understandable.

In short, most of my questions boil down to two questions.

Bearing in mind that every day this "regulation" remains in effect, the more bureaucratically entrenched it becomes, does the board have a plan to deal with, (remedy!) this problem?

If so, what is this plan and how soon can we expect to see it implemented?

Anxiously awaiting your response,

Ken

Gaddiel
05-08-2008, 06:14 AM
Bearing in mind that every day this "regulation" remains in effect, the more bureaucratically entrenched it becomes, does the board have a plan to deal with, (remedy!) this problem?

If so, what is this plan and how soon can we expect to see it implemented?

We have been talking to Chuck Walla and some other reviewers from Geocaching.com. Our situation in Arkansas appears to be a unique one. For this reason, it is of utmost importance that we have accurate information. The Board will be ready to make a recommendation as soon as we receive the information we need to plan our course of action.

We will make every effort to share information with you as it comes in.

While this issue is an important one, I simply cannot make promises that it will be resolved in a week or a month. Truth is, ArkGeo may not be able to affect any "remedy" for it at all. We have no authority in this situation, and we cannot control the policies of Geocaching.com or the NF.

What we can do is to give it our best shot. We can share our concerns and speak as a group. And I can promise that the Board will do do its best to serve and represent the membership in this endeavour.

As for the membership feedback, I encourage members to use this thread to voice your opinion or you are welcome to send a message to me personally. Thank you for all the input you have sent so far! Keep them coming!

Wayne

topkitty98
05-08-2008, 07:27 AM
We are also making efforts to compile information from other districts to get a clear overall picture of policy as it stands elsewhere. We felt it would effective to do this so that it can be compared along with the info we receive from other reviewers in the rest of the nation who have national forests in their areas.

searcykid
05-08-2008, 08:00 AM
Cooler heads than mine need to ponder this situation and I don't know how much logic or common sense will soke into the heads of the Powers that Be at the National Forrest Service. But It seems to me that we need to first find out who the Powers That Be really are. Who made the decision to charge the fee for Geocaches? Was this decision arbitrarily made and by whom and why didn't the geocaching community have an opportunity to explain our position and what we do for the benefit of the National Forrest before this “Final” decision was made?

If someone with a diplomatic demeanor could actually talk to someone in authority and tell them about the CITO events we conduct and how we teach environmental awareness to the young and older people we encounter and the instructions our members have given to the Boy Scouts, the young hunters such as the Jakes group and how this benefits the National Forrest Service. If we could explain to them that Geocaching is not a commercial endeavor and that it is composed of the entire segment of the population including children, young parents, and the older retired people and that a fee for placing caches could seriously impact the benefits the NFS receive as most of us do not have the financial means to pay for placing caches. To tell them about the safety issue of teaching young hunters, hikers, and NFS users how to use the modern navigational equipment such as the GPS to avoid becoming lost in the woods. How this could save lives and money the NFS spends to rescue lost hikers . Why should we have to pay for our good deeds in helping the NFS?

A lot of words to say that we need to try to explain to the NFS Powers That Be that we are actually helping them get responsible , environmentally friendly, and safety conscious people to use the NFS.. Nothing we do has been harmful but just the opposite, our actions have only been helpful and beneficial to the goals of the NFS.

Team Panda
05-08-2008, 08:40 PM
Well Wayne, I guess since you replied directly to my post and no one else from the Board has challenged your authority to do so, you're the guy I need to talk to.

First, I'd like to thank you for that wonderful and very skillfully written post. A less observant reader might actually read it and some how, be led to believe you actually addressed my questions

But that reader would be mistaken. In fact, you went to a great deal of trouble to write a lot and say nearly nothing at all. You managed, against incredible odds, to make quite a few statements with practically no meaningful content. This was done so skillfully, I can not believe it was an accident. I must instead, acknowledge the obvious. You're stonewalling.

I'm extremely curious as to exactly why you feel the need to do this but for now, I'll skip the conjecture and address your non-comments individually.



We have been talking to Chuck Walla and some other reviewers from Geocaching.com. Our situation in Arkansas appears to be a unique one.

Yes, we already know this. See earlier comments in this thread.



For this reason, it is of utmost importance that we have accurate information. The Board will be ready to make a recommendation as soon as we receive the information we need to plan our course of action.

What information? One can not simply seek information and then form a plan of action. One must have at least some idea of what one wishes to do before seeking information. Otherwise, one has no way of knowing what information one may require. This is the nature of planning.

My question to the board was simple. What is your plan? What do you the board, intend to do about the ONF situation?


We will make every effort to share information with you as it comes in.

Will you make every effort to share information or will you actually share information? I only ask because, you apparently believe there may be some currently unforseen factor(s) which would prevent this sharing of information. Otherwise, there is no need for the qualifying statement "we will make every effort."


While this issue is an important one, I simply cannot make promises that it will be resolved in a week or a month.

Neither I nor anyone else in this thread has attempted to extract any promises from you or the Board of Directors. We simply want to know what you are currently doing and what you intend to do in the forseeable future. We do not want to basically know what you are doing, we want to know exactly what you are doing and furthermore, we have a right to know.



Truth is, ArkGeo may not be able to affect any "remedy" for it at all. We have no authority in this situation, and we cannot control the policies of Geocaching.com or the NF.

Yes, we the members are fully aware you do not control Geocaching.com or the National Forest Service. We are also aware you do not control the price of dairy products, the weather, or the actions of Islamic Fundamentalists. Have no fear, neither I nor any other members will hold you responsible for those things which are obviously and patently out of your control. However, I am very disappointed you chose to spend more time talking about what you can't do than what you can do. It demonstrates a very defeatist attitude, which is exactly what we don't need right now.



What we can do is to give it our best shot. We can share our concerns and speak as a group. And I can promise that the Board will do do its best to serve and represent the membership in this endeavour.

Wayne, I don't believe we've met face to face but let me assure you, had you made the above statement to me in person, I'd have laughed out loud. That's really the only response such political doubletalk deserves.



As for the membership feedback, I encourage members to use this thread to voice your opinion or you are welcome to send a message to me personally. Thank you for all the input you have sent so far! Keep them coming!

Yes, that's ever so nice, isn't it?

Except it does little good to voice our concerns and ask for information when all we get in return are meaningless platitudes and stonewalling.

The ONF situation is of dire importance to pretty much every cacher west of Benton. It's our playground. I currently have six active caches on GC.com. Of those six, five are on ONF land. Under the current regulation, I'd have to pay $285.00 a year to keep them there. Obviously, I'm not about to do that.

I live very near Hot Springs, I have been to the ONF office in the Federal building on many occacions. I would love to go down there tomorrow, walk into the office, and have a sit-down to discuss the issue with those in charge.

But I can't do that!

I can't do that because you, the "Board of Directors" have already initiated contact with the ONF. If I walk in there, the only thing they need to say to cut me off at the ankles is: "We're dealing with the AGA Board of Directors, go talk to them." and my battleship is sunk. I'm done. Stuck with nowhere to go, no further avenue of attack, nothing.

You have taken the ability to deal with the situation out of my hands and assumed it as your own. Since you have seen fit to do this, I feel we Arkansas geocachers, are will within our rights to expect, if not outright demand, you do at least a better job of it than we could.

Long ago, I objected to the creation of a "Steering Committee" for exactly this and other reasons. At that time, you Wayne, and several others, insisted my concerns were misplaced, that I was just "stirring the pot" and that the fearless Steering Committee would be there to stand tall and fight the good fight for we the geocachers of Arkansas.

Now the time is here. The "good fight" is at hand, and you're already preparing us for failure by saying you may not be able to do anything.

Pardon me for being so blunt, but if this is the case, what's the point in having a "Board of Directors" at all?

I hope you can understand why I am so distressed about your resoundingly hollow response to my questions. It is not my intent to insult you but rather to make you understand the importance of this issue. Because despite your protestations to the contrary, your attitude screams of apathy. I wish only to impress upon you and the Board, the fact that the efforts the board is currently making appear to be minimal. Indeed, minimal is a generous term. From here, it looks like you have no intention of making any meaningful effort to fix this situation.

If it helps to make the situation seem a bit less intimidating and impossible to you, consider this.

You are not fighting the Federal Government, you are not facing the combined might of the entire USDA. You are merely attempting to get a favorable ruling to reverse a bureaucratic decision made by a single low level functionary

That really shouldn't be the herculean task you seem to think it is.

So, bearing all this in mind, I ask these questions again.

What does the Board feel would be the optimal solution to the ONF problem?

What does the Board intend to do in order to achieve this solution?


Thank you,

Ken


PS,

Before anyone jumps in and says something about my being so negative and so willing to take potshots at the Board without offering any suggestions or solutions of my own, rest assured, the reason I want answers to these questions so very badly is so that I can do exactly that. But I can't even do that without having at least some idea of what the Board intends to do.

Geezer_Veazey
05-08-2008, 09:48 PM
Somewhere along the line the distinction between right and privilege has become rather fuzzy.

AR-HICK
05-08-2008, 10:50 PM
You are not fighting the Federal Government, you are not facing the combined might of the entire USDA. You are merely attempting to get a favorable ruling to reverse a bureaucratic decision made by a single low level functionary

This is the person whom needs to convinced that we are not trying to rape the land. All that we want to do is place a few caches in a Beautiful part of our state and enjoy the National Forest.

I am sure that the search is on for this person and the Board will do their best to convince them of our intentions. The Board convinced the Arkansas State Parks to allow Geocaching and I have faith that the same will happen with this problem.

I am neither a skillful reader or writer and I do have friends on the board. I have the utmost faith in their judgement and abilities. You may not agree with the path they take, as long as it gets you where you want to go.

Parrot Parents
05-08-2008, 10:57 PM
Somewhere along the line the distinction between right and privilege has become rather fuzzy.

Sir, in spite of repeated reading of this post it makes no sense whatsoever. Can you please clarify???


AR-HICK "You may not agree with the path they take, as long as it gets you where you want to go."

Agreed, however, should THEY not know which path to take, how can WE know what they do? Most especially when they refuse to be open, honest and answer members' questions.

Team Panda
05-08-2008, 11:28 PM
This is the person whom needs to convinced that we are not trying to rape the land. All that we want to do is place a few caches in a Beautiful part of our state and enjoy the National Forest.

I am sure that the search is on for this person and the Board will do their best to convince them of our intentions. The Board convinced the Arkansas State Parks to allow Geocaching and I have faith that the same will happen with this problem.

Hey Mike!

I'm really glad you posted this because it perfectly illustrates what I'm talking about.

The person who made the decision is exactly the person you DON'T want to contact. After all, they thought it was a good idea or they wouldn't have done it to start with. Trying to "unsell" a bureaucrat on their own idea is usually going to be a pretty fruitless proposition.

Instead, far better to seek out this person's immediate supervisor. Their boss will not be nearly as dedicated to preserving the decision as the actual decision maker was, they don't have a personal stake in it and are able to be far more objective about the matter.


I am neither a skillful reader or writer and I do have friends on the board. I have the utmost faith in their judgement and abilities. You may not agree with the path they take, as long as it gets you where you want to go.

Don't sell yourself short, it's pretty obvious you're smarter than you would like most folks to believe.

I have friends on the board as well. If I knew for a fact that any one them was going to handle the matter personally, and as an individual rather than acting on behalf of a board they must answer to, I'd probably be resting a lot easier on this matter. But that isn't the case. So, instead of dealing with my friends I am forced to deal with what seems to be a surprisingly amorphous Board of Directors.

Given my druthers, I'd rather deal with my friends.

Geezer_Veazey
05-09-2008, 05:44 AM
Sir, in spite of repeated reading of this post it makes no sense whatsoever. Can you please clarify???
I'm trying hard to make sense but not having much luck.

mountainborn
05-09-2008, 09:10 AM
We have around thirty caches placed in a loop in the National Forest. It is obviously a concern for us. At $57.00 per cache, that is a "wad of jack" for a hillbilly to have to cough up. :o
Yet, though we are worried about it, we believe that our duly elected represenatives will do what is in our best intrest. :D
It is counter productive to attack the board, or individuals. If the issue is worrying you, and you just must attack something to relieve the stress, then attack the issue, not the person.
It will be hard for our elected represenatives to function at their best level if they are being attacked from within. 8O

Team Panda
05-09-2008, 10:37 AM
It is counter productive to attack the board, or individuals. If the issue is worrying you, and you just must attack something to relieve the stress, then attack the issue, not the person.
It will be hard for our elected represenatives to function at their best level if they are being attacked from within. 8O

Attacking?

If I ask questions and expect answers from elected board members, I'm attacking them? That's an interesting form of "Democracy" you have there. Ask yourself what kind of governments use that type of logic.

As for attacking the issues, I'd love to! I'd REALLY love to.

As soon as some one will start telling me what those issues are.

I don't want a fight, I don't want an argument, and I don't want to attack anyone. But what should have been a simple request for information from the Board of Directors is turning into quite a painful ordeal, isn't it?

Well NEWSFLASH folks,

It ain't me causing the pain.

4wheeling-1
05-09-2008, 11:28 AM
I'm not much on the arguing part of this thread and I don't know a whole lot of big words. I did read somewhere at the beginning of all this that all suggestions and comments were welcome. I am far from having a solution but I have done a little research about other parks and national lands in other states to see what the "norm" might be, about all of them require a permit for a physical cache, some only allow virtuals, one in particular required the owner of the cache to check on it personally every 30 days and respond to their local ranger district about the well being of the cache, there were many different rules and some of them just said "NO GEOCACHING ALLOWED". If you would like further info go to "USASEARCH.GOV", type in geocaching and read until your heart is content. I know I will get slammed for posting this because what happens in other states has no effect on this matter, I just thought the best way I could help was to give folks other ideas we might use to approach this, take some of the rules from these other places that sound resonable and take that to our national forest "powers that be". None of the other states I read about charged a fee. I do fully understand the forest wanting to keep track of what people are putting in the woods. I will keep looking for more info on geocaching in protected areas and hope this will help give ideas to those that are trying to come up with a solution.

oenavigator
05-09-2008, 02:06 PM
:D

Dentful1
05-09-2008, 02:51 PM
Sounds like OEnavigator has been doing some homework. A great job at it too. He mentioned that the FS has contacted the organization and had a chance for all to voice concerns and we dropped the ball on it. I hope and pray that we get a second chance at this.

We also need to come up with a figure as to how many caches are actually within the NF itself statewide and just the Ouachita Forest for comparisons. This will give us a great view as to the impact of use of the Forests will recieve if we all archive the caches.

I know I brought this subject up and I am glad I did. I did not mean for this to get out of hand. I also know that the Panda's are "gentle creatures" and his posts need not offend anyone. The Panda's are just wanting answers just like the rest of us. The quicker the better I might add. We do need to address this issue, but an all out war of words won't do anything but draw lines within our own organization.
Perhaps we need to relax a bit, I know, how about a nice float on the Caddo River next Saturday the 17th. :wink: That would be relaxing and for those that need to vent can take out their "anger" by dragging their canoe across the shallow currents. :lol:

mountainborn
05-09-2008, 05:46 PM
When someone's NAME is caled more than once, then the word YOU is used more that FIFTY times, it is hard to imagine that it was not a PERSONAL ATTACK.

Team Panda
05-09-2008, 06:10 PM
Okay, now you're counting how many times I used the word "you."

You know (Darn, I used it again!) I'm not going to back off of this.It's too important an issue to allow you (ACK! AGAIN!) to cloud the issue with something this ridiculous.

You (EEP! HUSH MA MOUF!) can not make me back off this by trying to make me feel like I'm a bully. I have a right to ask questions of the board and expect real answers rather than semi-polite brushoffs.

I've asked my questions and I'm going to continue asking them until I get satisfactory answers to them. Frankly, I can't think of any good reasons why those answersweren't provided two days ago. OENavigator didn't have any trouble "gathering information" maybe HE should be running the Board. (Except I wouldn't wish that on him.)

As for my use of the word "you" fifty times (I'm taking your word for it, God knows I have better things to do than count them myself!) I think I made it perfectly clear, that with a few exceptions directed to Wayne, the use of the word "you" was directed to the Board of Directors as a whole.

You (Oh Lordy, can't sombody STOP ME?) can choose to believe otherwise if you (~sob!~) wish, at this point I'm rapidly losing interest in who is angry at me and who is not. If you :evil: CHOOSE to be insulted, you :( will find insults everywhere. If you :oops: CHOOSE to take offense, you :roll: will find offense whether it is there or not.

Either way, the choice is yours and nothing I say or do will affect it.

THE SIMPLE TRUTH IS THIS. THE ONLY THING REQUIRED TO INSTANTLY TURN ME FROM OPPONENT TO ALLY IS TO ANSWER THE QUESTIONS.

I don't want the questions answered simply to gratify my curiosity, nor do I want the answers posted simply for my own benefit. I ask the questions because we, the Geocachers of Arkansas, need to know what's going on if we wish to do anything meaningful to address this problem.

But then, I guess that makes me the badguy. Fine, I'll be the badguy.

But good guy or bad, I still want to know what the Board of Directors intends to do about this matter.

Sincerely,

Evil Rotten No Good Ken
(Gimme a break, just give us some answers, huh?)
[/b]

QuartzCachers
05-09-2008, 06:39 PM
Wheeww! Everybody take a breath, step back a minute, and remember we are all on the same team here!
Just a passing thought, the ONF extends into Oklahoma. I believe they have an organization or two, or more. God forbid that we side up with the okies :) , but the more soldiers we have, the better our odds are against Big Brother.
This is an issue of vital importance to us who are surrounded as far as the eye can see by the NF. As Ken mentioned earlier, if you live in the area where we do, by the time you take out the off limits National Park territory, there is basicly ONF left. I think part of Ken's frustration, is that it seems like this is a MAJOR issue to a few, but a minor inconvenience to most.
I hope that we can get this thing resolved, but more important, to me any way, is that we emerge from this, still as friends. I know this may sound simplistic to some, but is of great importance to me. A smart guy once told me that it is more important to be kind than to be right. I hope we can remember that.

RGS
05-09-2008, 09:34 PM
I'm obviously not going to get involved in this discussion, but want to give you a little fuel for your battle.

Being in Missouri (St. Louis), most of our National Forest is Mark Twain, which encompasses most of the open land in the ozarks. The main office is located in Rolla, MO on I-44. Our contact for MTNF is Nancy Feakes, Recreation Manager, Mark Twain National Forest, 573-364-4621 x472.

She is very "pro-geocaching" and would probably be a good person to contact. Currently no permits are required nor time limits on placements.

The basic rules are:
Cache should not be placed in sensitive areas such as:
Wildermess.
Archaeological sites
Caves
Dangersous areas
Just about anywhere else is fair game
All she wants is some basic cache information:
Where the cache is located
How it is hidden
What type of container
A link to the cache page

She may be a good person to have on your side as a contact.

RGS-St. Louis

QuartzCachers
05-10-2008, 05:52 AM
Thanks RGS! That is helpful input! Someone who is with us, and is on "the inside" would be a great ally, I would think.
I think, after reading OEnavigators well researched and written latest post, that this organization should have a position of liason, for the National Forests. Maybe one for both. (yes I realize that there are three, but I think the Ozark and St. Francis are run from the same office)
I can think of several viable candidates to fill these posts.(how about OEnavigator, for one) We have a load of talent in our ranks, and this could be very hlepful in resolving this issue, and help to avoid any such unpleasantness in the future.

SJClimber
05-10-2008, 07:23 AM
We have a friend who does arbitration for the Feds on Federal land out west. She is to be in LRA Memorial Weekend so I'll pass this by her and get some input. Interesting conundrum which can likely be resolved.

oenavigator
05-10-2008, 03:35 PM
:D

Team Panda
05-11-2008, 07:39 PM
Just a thought here...

Do you (the board) realize the longer you (the board) wait, the more impressive your plan is going to have to be?

As of tomorrow, it will have been two weeks since word was first posted on this website. I'd say two weeks is more than enough time for you (the board!) to come up with an effective and workable plan.

So, let's hear it please.

Team Panda
05-14-2008, 06:48 PM
http://img254.imageshack.us/img254/9885/tumblintumbleweed001tk2.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

Team_Pink
05-15-2008, 07:42 AM
I think we need to understand that Arkgeo is a young organization. Infant in fact. I think now that Arkgeo is an official (501c) organization, has elections, etc. things like this will be part of the normal activities of the leadership. I'm not saying that things couldn't have been handled better but the organization is really just now starting to get off the ground. I was extremely disappointed in the decision by the steering committee's refusal to officially support a meeting of parks and recreational professionals from all over the state. I think things are now going in a direction where we will see Arkgeo leading in initiatives like this.

Any small organization that is purely voluntary will always have challenges keeping leadership fresh and energized. If you are passionate about the organization's responsibilities offer to be part of the solution by volunteering to serve in a leadership position or as committee member and change the YOU to WE.

Parrot Parents
05-15-2008, 10:55 AM
Pretty sentiments, Team Pink, however..... so far, the fledgling "Steering Committee" hasn't even asked for input, or listened to ideas. They sit atop their perceived ivory tower - in an area unaffected by this ruling - not wanting to bother (or dirty their hands?) on a matter that doesn't affect them personally. As a person who will soon be living in the affacted area, I am astounded and disappointed that no one from the affected area has even been contacted to be asked their opinion!

I belong to BC Cachers, and trust me, they do NOT work in this secretive, slipshod, cliquish manner - and their area of coverage is *huge* compared to this one. Arkgeo is a bitter diappointment.

searcykid
05-15-2008, 11:06 AM
I noticed that ArkGeo has over 1600 registered members. I know that a lot of them are not active at the present time or just signed up to spam or are out of state members but we should have at least close to a 1000 members that are still interested in this organization.

I know that we are informed by a post on this website when and where the board is going to meet but since most of us have not seen fit to attend these meetings or given our input into the discussions or sent an email to the board as to ideas we feel should be discussed and a lot of us have not exercised our right to vote and choose the board members then it is improper now to criticise them for not doing what we want them to do.

Instead of complaining in this forum, maybe we should have a meeting with the Board. Anyone that has an idea, complaint, or wants to find a solution should be there.

I feel that some changes by the board and by us the members are in order. First of all, I, ME, SEARCYKID and YOU, (all the other members) should become more involved in who our representatives are, what they are doing as a board, and find out their ideas and what their thoughts are on what they should be doing as the directors of the Arkansas Geocachers Association. WE SHOULD ATTEND THE BOARD MEETINGS. We should be prepared to offer ideas, suggestions, or at least get informed what is happening. For instance , had you heard about the meeting that the Forrest Service was having to discuss geocaching but did not inform anyone?. Had the board members heard about it but did not choose to react? I personally did not know about it . Mayby the ArkGeo board members had not heard about it. Maybe this situation with the Forrest Service will be a wake up call to us and the board as to what we need to do in the future.
Second of all, THE BOARD, should post on this websiite everything that was discussed and decided at each meeting. If two members of the board talk about an idea for the ArkGeo, then this idea should be floated on this website for the general membership to see and discuss.
THE BOARD, I believe should send out emails to all the registered members whenever the board is going to meet, email the members the slate of candidates for new board positions, email the members when the election is over, informing each member of the results. In other words keep in touch more personally with the members through email rather than expecting them to log on each day to the ArkGeo website. This could be done as a NEWSLETTER. I don't know about the expense of sending and email to 1600 people but it seems it would be a good use of any monies ARKGEO has to develope such a database to help keep the membership informed and active.


We now have a slate of candidates for us to choose two new members.
If we are expecting these new board members to represent us in discussions with all the entities that might be contrary to Geocaching, then we need to get acquainted with the candidates and find out for ourselves their abilities and capabilities. Do they have charisma (charm), do they have knowledge, do they have the proper temperament, do they have the time, do they really have the fire and desire to go and do things a lot of us want done but feel we just do not have the abilities necessary to do ourselves. Many of us get tongue tied when talking in public or to people we do not know, so (are the candidates good speakers?), many of us are too shy to make contact with strangers, so (are the candidates personable and friendly and outgoing?), many of us do not have the temperament to talk about controversial subjects, so (do the candidates have good self control under stress?), and most of us do not have the time to do the business of the organization, so (Do the candidates have the time to put into this work of the organization?).
Since the election ends soon, it is probably too late to have a Candidate Meeting Event this election but maybe we should think about such an event in the future.
In the meantime I will not complain about the past but will try to make my thoughts and ideas about the future evident to the Board.

Team Panda
05-15-2008, 12:24 PM
There are some excellent comments from all parties here. I'd like to address a few of them in no particular order and make a few comments myself.

First, I'd like to address the use of the terms "Steering Committee" and "Board of Directors." People seem to be using them interchangably and I'm sure that's because our "Leadership" (ahem) started out as a "Steering Committee" and some time in the past couple of years, morphed into a "Board of Directors."

Perhaps most folks don't know the difference between the two.

To put it simply, a "Steering Committee" gathers data, organizes items for discussion, and then presents those items and data to the Governing Body.

A Board of Directors IS the Governing Body!

I'd say there's a rather distinct difference. Did you know you were being governed?

Team Pink,

We haven't spoken before so first, I guess "Howdy!" is in order.
Second, I have to disagree with you. The AGA is not a "young" organization. I've been a member for almost four years and they were just talking about electing the first "Steering Committee" shortly after I joined up.

Four years is a long time. If you start looking at other geocaching organizations, there are some half the age of the AGA but far more advanced in pretty much every way. I'm not saying that's a good thing or a bad thing, I'm just pointing out what IS. Personally, the less organized things are, the happier I generally am. Organization means "Leadership" and "Leadership" is exactly what's causing this rotten, horrible, stinking mess we're dealing with right now.

For example...


I was extremely disappointed in the decision by the steering committee's refusal to officially support a meeting of parks and recreational professionals from all over the state.

Listen to yourself. Their DECISION?

Who gave them the power to make any decision for YOU? I certainly didn't. If you search back to my earliest posts on this forum, I warned that EXACTLY this sort of thing was in the future if they chose to elect a "Steering Committe." At first, I was calmly and pleasantly assured that this would never ever happen, and then later, as I continued to resist, I was pretty much treated like an idiot or a raving maniac who just wouldn't listen to reason.

And yet here we are today, waiting with hands tied, for THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS to make a decision for us.

And while we wait, they are maintaining total radio silence, refusing to answer even the most basic questions, while the AGA quietly jitters apart.

Look, I have friends on that board. People I've cached with, broken bread with, and come to really and sincerely care for. But I'm not dealing with them. For all I know, I'm not being allowed to deal with them. NONE of them have posted in this thread. Why is that? Has "The Board" given them orders to stay out of it? Are they being bullied into remaining silent? Do they actually agree with this policy of ignoring the membership?

I don't know and have no way of knowing. Either way, I have no choice but to assume that for whatever reason, they have no voice, power, or authority within their own board.

So maybe we're not even dealing with the whole board. Maybe we're stuck dealing with some faction within the board who has some how managed to "seize power" and is now refusing to lower itself to speak to us peons.

Voting?
VOTING?

Are you kidding?

I voted in the past and look what it got us.

Silence.
Inaction
Arrogance.

Yeah, let me rush to the nearest voting booth so I can get some more of that!

Want to have some fun? Go read the bylaws of the AGA and see if you can find ANYTHING, ANYTHING at all, that says the Board of Directors is in any way accountable to the membership. See if there is one thing which will allow us the members to dispute or overturn any decision they make. No thanks, I can't speak for anyone else, but personally I don't care to give anyone that much power over any aspect of my life.

If it weren't for this ONF issue and the interference from the BOARD, I'd quit this group today and never darken it's doorstep again. Sadly, there is an important issue which must be dealt with and the Board of Directors has inserted itself deeply into that issue, forcing me to attempt to deal with them.

And yet all my questions are met with stony silence


Parrot Parents.

When you say the Board hasn't asked for input, you're not really being fair. They did ask for input earlier in this thread.

They've just refused to respond to any of it.

You are correct however, when you say that AGA is a bitter disappointment. I certainly expected far better than this.

searcykid,

You raise some excellent points.

There SHOULD be a newsletter.
The Board SHOULD post DETAILED MINUTES of every meeting they have.

But there's a whole bucket full of things the Board SHOULD be doing but isn't. In fact, as far as I can see, the only thing the Board is doing these days is maintaining this website and ignoring the living hell out of it's membership.

I don't think "getting to know your representatives" is going to fix that.

I know David Spicer. (paris1time) He's a GREAT guy! I have nothing but wonderful things to say about him and his family. Should I vote for him?

What's he ever done to me?

I ask that question because if he's elected to the Board, he's not going to be allowed to do anything FOR me, so why should I commit the huge unkindness of voting to put him in a position where he has responsibility but no power or authority? Hell, at this point, if I had to vote in the elections, I'd try to find people I didn't like! I wouldn't DO that to my friends!

As far as you, me, or any other member calling a meeting, I suggest you go read the Bylaws. THERE IS NO PROVISION FOR THE MEMBERS TO CALL A MEETING SPECIAL, GENERAL, OR OTHERWISE, OF THE AGA.

There is no provision for the membership to call for anything.

Folks, look...

This has gone on for far too long, I'm tired of trying to be reasonable with the unreasonable people running the Board of Directors. I'm just going to lay it on the line.

We've been had.

We've been sold a bill of goods.

It's become painfully obvious to me that he AGA isn't being "governed" by the "Board of Directors." I refuse to believe the people on that board who are my friends would stand still for this sort of treatment towards the members if they had any power to stand up against it.

I'm not going to name names, but come on now, THINK about it. You know these people at least as well as I do. Do you REALLY believe _____ would sit still and remain silent while you're begging for answers? If he had any choice at all, don't you think he'd stand up and say something?

Yeah, I think so too.

So, who's running the AGA? I believe its being governed by a small power clique' within the Board of Directors. I also believe, that as long as the persons in that clique' are involved with AGA in any way, this is exactly the kind of treatment we can expect to get from "The Board."

And they're not going anywhere.

So now I'm tired of typing. I'm tired of being the one who has to ask all the questions and say all the things that nobody else wants to say. If I'd wanted to do this sort of thing, I'd have nominated myself for election to the Board. I thought a "Steering Committee" was a bad idea four years ago and I think a "Board of Directors" is a worse one now.

Now here's what you need to think about...

WITH THE TECHNOLOGY AVAILABLE TO US, WE HAVE THE ABILITY TO FORM THAT MOST PERFECT OF GOVERNMENTS, THE DIRECT DEMOCRACY! WE HAVE THE ABILITY TO SET UP AND EFFECTIVELY RUN AN ORGANIZATION WHO'S EVERY DECISION, EVERY MOVE, IS VOTED ON BY ANY AND ALL MEMBERS WHO WISH TO VOTE!

NO LEADERS
NO FOLLOWERS
NO INSIDERS
NO OUTSIDERS
NO "POPULAR KIDS"
NO "UGLY KIDS"

SO WHY ISN'T IT BEING RUN THAT WAY?

Team_Pink
05-15-2008, 12:38 PM
Let me see if I am hearing what you are saying.

Arkgeo leadership is unresponsive
There is no accountability
Lack of communications from the leadership

I think these are issues than can be handled by the bylaws. There were some known issues with the bylaws all along. I think generally the membership wanted to get the show on the road and push something through. That has been done. I agree that it is time to take a hard look at the bylaws and make changes.

I propose that the newly elected officials meet at the Lake Catherine event, and make some needed changes in short order. This discussion could be used as a guideline.

Team Panda
05-15-2008, 12:53 PM
I'm sorry Pink, I'm sure I'm going to sound at least abrasive and possibly combative when I say this, but please accept my promise to you that I intend neither.

Are you hearing me, or are you seeing it for yourself?

I don't want or need ANYONE to simply take my word for ANYTHING.

If you disagree with me, please say so and I'll type until my fingers are numb and read until my vision blurs if that's what it takes for us to come to an agreement.

I think a meeting with the Board of Directors at this time is probably too little, too late. Besides, I have friends on that Board, who are apparently powerless, and I have no desire to set them up to take the fall for the real "problem children" in the group.

The Steering Committee, now Board of Directors, was originally formed using the argument that an elected leadership would be better able to represent the geocachers of Arkansas in exactly the sort of occasions like you mentioned in your last post, and this current issue with the ONF.

How's that working out for us?

I think at this point, our best bet is to completely dissolve the Board and move the AGA to a form of Electronic Direct Democracy.

Team_Pink
05-15-2008, 01:13 PM
I doubt that dissolving the board would achieve any worthwhile goals. I don't think you would have the support of the majority of the folks who frequent this board to do so either.

To be clear, I disagree that the current board should be dissolved. I think we need an "official" organization to represent Arkansas geocachers. I think Arkgeo has the membership in both quantity and quality to justify that Arkgeo be that organization.

I do agree that there needs to be some changes in the bylaws.

If you think that the board is controlled by one or two, then let's change the bylaws so that there is accountability and fix the problem rather than starting from scratch. I think we should work this out as a group and be unified rather than divided. There is a solution to these issues and with honest communication and hearty debate, we can find them without being divided while not necessarily agreeing on every point.

I'm asking you to help our group, of which you are a part, to find a solution that will leave us intact and healthy. Expressing your opinion is healthy, calling for division is not.

searcykid
05-15-2008, 07:18 PM
I think communication from the board, or lack thereof, is the reason Team Panda is so upset. I too would like to know if the board has even noticed this issue and if they have any plans to address it to the NFS or to us the members.

Like I said in my other post, keep us informed. Either on this website or in a NEWSLETTER . not a personal email to one or two but a general mailing of the same information to all.

But I also think that we have time to discuss this rationally. I don"t think taking a week or two to discusss this will affect the outcome at all. In fact it seems a "cooling off" period would be best right now. What I am more afraid of is that someone will foul it up for everyone by rushing in to the NFS offices before deciding what they are going to say and to whom and blows his/her top .
I have dealt with the government before and you cannot demand anything.
You cannot shout at them that the NFS belongs to us and expect any response except to be escorted out by the police. Then Geocaching would be doomed for sure.

So, who is going to pick up the ball at the Board and tell us what if anything the ArkGeo position here is before it does become "Too Late".

Parrot Parents
05-15-2008, 07:31 PM
May I ask how anyone can 'pick up the ball' so to speak, when there has been NO INFORMATION forthcoming??

I am willing to travel back to Arkansas and speak directly to government officials.... but not until FULL DISCLOSURE has been made by the alleged "Board Members" - whom I am beginning to doubt even exist - as surely no one could be so dumb as to nor respond to the membership!

If the "Board" does indeed exist, WHY is there no communication from them? Do they have no idea what to do??? HAVE they even communicated with anyone in the government? These are simple questions and have very simple answers.... so why the silence? Are they afraid to admit they don't know? or do they only represent selected areas of Arkansas? (Note: these are again, simple questions)

mountainborn
05-15-2008, 08:04 PM
Sixty four replies and one thousand six hundred plus looks at this thread.
Should a board member be so foolish as to post anything, it would picked apart so savagely that . . . . . . .
You know they are reading this.
You know they are talking about it.
Trying to goad them into a response to flush them out in the open so the entire pack can attack and savage them ? Embarrasing, totally embarrasing. :oops:

Team Panda
05-15-2008, 08:18 PM
Team Pink said...

Expressing your opinion is healthy, calling for division is not.

I'm not calling for a division, I'm simply recognizing that a division already exists. A division created by the Board of Directors by refusing to speak to the members of the organization they supposedly govern.

It's funny. Most of the time when I post, the board is fairly deserted. Then, I post, I wait about 20 or 30 minutes and suddenly I look at the "Who is Where" feature on the left side of this screen and I start seeing the same names popping up over and over again. Every time I post, cell phones start ringing, IMs start flying, and everybody rushes to see what the Evil Panda has written this time.

So obviously, they have the time to deal with problems. (Just not problems WE think are important!)

Obviously, they are COMPLETELY aware of what is going on.

And just as obviously, they still choose to say and do NOTHING.

As I said before, the only thing required to turn me from adversary to ally is to come in, answer questions, state what they intend to do, and be willing to discuss the issue in an adult manner.

Yet the Board chooses to remain absolutely silent.

Now Mountainborn seems to think asking questions and expecting answers is the wrong tactic. Apparently he thinks the best way to get answers is to stop asking questions. Or, perhaps he thinks it's okay to ask questions, it's just rude to expect answers.

According to him, the Board is remaining silent because they're scared to death of that BIG MEAN NASTY PANDA GUY who will lay in wait for them on the trail and say mean things to them if they do exactly what he says.

Good grief, you've got to be kidding.

You know, you can either attempt to demonize me in order to serve your friends, or you can choose to address the real problems and serve everyone.

Your choice.

But you know, you're right about one thing. After this ridiculous amount of time has passed, when and IF the Board ever reveals its super-secret-need-to-know-basis-eyes-only-kill-yourself-before-reading plan, it's going to have to be something pretty sectacular to explain this ridiculously long delay.

AND STILL THE BOARD SAYS NOTHING!

Team Panda
05-15-2008, 08:29 PM
Oh, I wanted to address some of what SK had to say...


I think communication from the board, or lack thereof, is the reason Team Panda is so upset.

Uh, ya think?


I too would like to know if the board has even noticed this issue and if they have any plans to address it to the NFS or to us the members.

And I very sincerely thank you for having the apparently enormous courage it requires to stand up and say so. I'm getting very tired of being alone on the firing line.

But not tired enough that I'll stop demanding REAL communication from the Board. ;)


Like I said in my other post, keep us informed. Either on this website or in a NEWSLETTER . not a personal email to one or two but a general mailing of the same information to all.

A Newsletter containing official statements from the Board is an EXCELLENT idea. It's also something that should have been done from the start.


But I also think that we have time to discuss this rationally. I don"t think taking a week or two to discusss this will affect the outcome at all. In fact it seems a "cooling off" period would be best right now.

SK, there has been NO DISCUSSION.

Me sitting here asking the Board to TALK TO US does not qualify as a DISCUSSION.

As far as the Board is concerned, there's certainly no need for THEM to cool down, they haven't done anything to get warmed up!

And if I take a "cooling off period" well, I guess the Board will sit back and enjoy the peace and quiet.

But they sure won't change what they're doing.



What I am more afraid of is that someone will foul it up for everyone by rushing in to the NFS offices before deciding what they are going to say and to whom and blows his/her top .
I have dealt with the government before and you cannot demand anything.
You cannot shout at them that the NFS belongs to us and expect any response except to be escorted out by the police. Then Geocaching would be doomed for sure.

Yes, I've had that fear myself. I've been very concerned somebody with the Board's authority in hand, would go stomp where they should softpeddle, and softpeddle where they should stomp, and SCREW IT UP FOR ALL OF US.



So, who is going to pick up the ball at the Board and tell us what if anything the ArkGeo position here is before it does become "Too Late".

Who indeed, my friend. Who indeed.




~crickets chirp~

Team Panda
05-15-2008, 08:38 PM
Sorry, one last thought then I'm shutting up for the night.

Mountainborn said...


Trying to goad them into a response to flush them out in the open so the entire pack can attack and savage them ?

Why should I have to GOAD them to get a response?

Why should I have to "FLUSH THEM OUT INTO THE OPEN?"

They are supposed to represent us. They're supposed to ALWAYS be "in the open."

NOBODY HERE VOTED TO ELECT A SECRET GOVERNMENT!

And finally, I'd like to know the answer to this one...

Since when did the membership of AGA become a PACK?

I mean, you're obviously not talking about just me. I know I'm EVIL MEAN AND ROTTEN, but even evil old me would have a hard time making a one man pack. So, apparently anyone not willing to sit down, shut up, and leave the grownups alone is part of a pack?

I think you're giving us some insights you really didn't intend to let slip and I think you have a right to be embarassed.

Just not for the reasons you pretend.

oenavigator
05-15-2008, 08:58 PM
:D

flannelman
05-16-2008, 01:49 AM
Navigator you are wise beyond your years and I don't even know how old you are!! :D

I want answers too. I have thought about this for a while now and I really don't know what we can do about it. I do know that we all need to get out what we think and hear what the board has to say when they say it. If they don't know what to do then they should speak up and let us know. It is ok if you don't know what to do. Half the time I don't either!! The most important thing we can do it to proceed with caution and cool heads. The NFS doesn't have to do anything at all. They don't really care about geocaching one way or another. It is just another activity that they feel the need to regulate. If we cache or not it really doesn't make a hill of beans to them. We must go in with good information and reason for them to change the policy. But more importantly we must sell them on why geocaching is a good thing. They don't care about our thoughts on permits and fees. They don't care that we think it isn't fair. I wouldn't be suprised if they did this with the intention to keep us out of the forrest and not have to deal with us.

Whatever the outcome I do believe that the ArkGeo board cares about this issue and about our caching future. I do believe that we can all work togather on this issue and that with cool heads and good diection that we as a group can get something done. It is time to man up(sorry ladies) and do what is right. Let's move past what we have messed up and move toward a solution.

mountainborn
05-16-2008, 03:39 AM
TP said:
I think you're giving us some insights you really didn't intend to let slip and I think you have a right to be embarassed.

Just not for the reasons you pretend.
>
That is an un warranted personal attack on someone who is meerly trying to inject some reason into this topic.

Team Panda
05-16-2008, 04:46 AM
Mountainborn, you keep accusing me of making personal attacks. First you counted how many times I used the word "you" in a post, now, I take your own words and redirect them back to you. Somehow, they were not an attack when you used them but they magically become an attack when I use them. That's very interesting.

It's also very interesting that you chose to ignore EVERYTHING ELSE I SAID and attempt to discredit me instead of addressing my comments concerning the topic at hand.

If this is what you consider "injecting reason into this topic" you have a very "creative" undertanding of the word "reason."

Please consider the following...

1. As I mentioned to you earlier, a man who expects to be insulted will find insult around every corner. A man who wishes to take offense will find offense even where there is none. Perhaps you should stop trying to create artificial problems and start trying to help us solve the real ones.

2. I am not the creator of our problems. I am not responsible for the ONF policy and as much as you'd like to play some sort of Jedi mind trick and convince everyone otherwise, I am not responsible for the Board's continued silence. I did not make the Emporer naked, I am simply pointing out his continued refusal to put on a pair of pants!

3. Even though I have stated this at least once or twice already in this thread, here and now, I give my solemn vow:

If the AGA Board of Directors will stop acting like some sort of Secret Society and open an HONEST, TWO WAY, discourse with FULL AND IMMEDIATE DISCLOSURE with the membership of the AGA, I will INSTANTLY shift gears and do all I can to help them solve the ONF problem. After all, the ONF is my back yard! I would be a FOOL to try and sabotage any sincere efforts to correct the problem and although you obviously think differently, I can assure you I am no fool.

Even at this late date, as Flannelman stated above, if the Board will even come out and admit they have no plan and no idea what to do, that would be far more desirable than the current silent treatment.

Finally, to everyone crying out against divisiveness and disagreement, to everyone calling for us to work as a team, please consider the following.

IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO "WORK TOGETHER" WHEN ONE PARTY REFUSES TO JOIN IN THE "WORK!"

relikborg
05-16-2008, 07:34 AM
Maybe we could write our Senators, and Congressmen. If someone could come up with a standard letter that we could all just plug our names into. Due to it being an election year we may actually be able to get them to do something.

AR-HICK
05-16-2008, 09:37 PM
I really don’t like the way this thread is going, and I am just stating my humble opinion.

I have been reading the ArkGeo forums for 3+ years and these strong feelings don’t do anything but cause hard feelings amongst my fellow cachers. I am reminded of another time when feelings caused members of ArkGeo to leave the forums. I don’t want this to happen again. Until now I enjoyed reading the forums and now this thread has turned ugly. You may think I am a puppet for the “Secret Society”, I cannot change what you think.

Well, I have an opinion just like everyone else.

Two Board members replied to this thread and one of them had their reply dissected into little pieces and spit out after being chewed on. It was an effort to let everyone know that the board was working on the problem. It may not have satisfied your taste, but it was a reply.

I would just like to remind everyone who has forgotten This is a Game, We all play it and none of us play it just exactly the same.

The Board is a group of Volunteers who receive no monetary rewards for serving.

I have made contributions of money and time to the ArkGeo because I believe it is a good organization. We don’t have a lot of people who are willing to do that. The Nominations for the current election were open in April and NO ONE was Nominated everybody sat on their hands and didn’t do anything without knowing who the nominees were. Don’t just complain about how things are going, GET UP AND DO SOMETHING TO CHANGE IT.

I also am pretty sure that every citizen has the right to go in and talk to the Ouachita National Forest Office and plead your point. I have not seen where anyone has been tied up to prevent this. I would suggest that you have a better demeanor than on OUR Forums or you may be looking thru bars before your visit is over.

If I have offended anyone fine with me. I live in America and I have the right to free speech. If you don’t like it, you can chew this up and spit it out too, I don’t care!

AR-HICK
Mike Beavers

sayitagain
05-16-2008, 11:14 PM
Well said Mike. I noticed something that was said earlier in this tread that I thought was a little misleading that really had nothing to do with the ONF issue but rather the lack of support by the steering committee on another issue. I don’t know how to make those cute little boxes with the quotes but the comment I am referring to was made by team pink when he was talking about Arkgeo being a young organization. I think the exact words were “I was extremely disappointed in the decision by the steering committees refusal to officially support a meeting of parks and recreational professionals from all over the state”. I assume that he was referring to the Arkansas Recreation and Parks annual conference in Jonesboro two years ago. I am a member of that organization and have been for almost thirty years. I checked with the Executive Director of the ARPA today to make sure that there had not been another request for help from the Arkansas Geocachers Association and she did not know of one. I was at that conference and the professionalism exhibited by the members of this organization as they taught a group of about 20 Arkansas Recreators the ropes of geo caching was exemplary. For an event held in the middle of a work week I thought attendance was pretty good and there were several members of the steering committee there to lend a hand as well. Everybody there had a really fantastic time. Some people even brought ready made cache containers to give away. One of those was donated to the live auction to support the scholarship fund that was held at the banquet and sold for $30. The North Little Rock Parks Department capitalized on what they picked up at this event and Burns Park Cache Bash was the result. I think that that event was well supported and I want to once more say a big thank you to all of those who made it happen

Team Panda
05-17-2008, 01:58 AM
Hey Mike!

I can't tell you how glad I am that you and I agree we both have the right to freedom of speech in general and on these forums in specific.

I'm glad to hear that because it seems to me there are quite a few people trying really hard to discourage me from stating MY "humble opinion."

Including yourself. That's the problem with freedom, Mike. Once you let one guy have it, everyone wants it and you won't always like what the other guy has to say.

Of course, not liking it doesn't mean it's not true.

Do you think I like this? Do you really believe I'm HAPPY about having to come in here day after day, looking for a response from the Board and finding NONE? Do you think I don't know I'm losing friends over this? Yeah, I know it. I take some small measure of comfort from knowing that any "friend" who would turn away from me for speaking the truth wasn't that much of a friend to start with, but its still not a happy thing.

Yeah, you're right about Geocaching being a game too. Well, game, sport, that question has never really been answered in my mind but either way, it's not what any of us do for a living.

But then, if it's not important to you, why do it at all? Why read these forums? Why post here? Why hide a cache? Why attend events? Obviously it is at least a little important to you, so please don't try to convince me it's not important to me.

But we're not talking about how the game is played. We're talking about government policy that directly affects us all. Well, at least I'm talking about that. Pretty much everyone else is either talking about me or they're not talking at all.

I wonder why that is?

Yes, the board is a group of volunteers. They're not getting paid to do their job, which is a good thing as apparently they're not doing anything at all. Which, is a shame.

When you take on the responsibilities of an elected office, even in something as totally unimportant as you seem to think geocaching is, when you form a non-profit organization, you don't get to complain about not having the time to do the job. If you don't have the time, quit. Let some one else take over and if no one else wants the job, then it really must not be that important. Right?

Are you seriously trying to tell me the Board has answers, they are doing something, they're really on the case and handling things but they're afraid to come in here and say anything because WICKED, EVIL, MEAN, AND NASTY ol' Team Panda might come in and disagree with them?

I MIGHT EVEN TYPE IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS! HOW COULD ANYONE STAND UP AGAINST THE HORROR AND TERROR OF ALL CAPITAL LETTERS AND LOTS OF QUESTION MARKS???

:roll:

And thanks, but I really don't need your advice on how to stay out of jail. That's a red herring anyway. I haven't threatened anyone, I have done nothing illegal, so why are you talking trash about jail? Well, I've never been to jail. Maybe you know more about it than I do, I dunno.

Anyway, no. You haven't offended me at all. You've annoyed me a little bit, but that's just because you want to come in here and talk about me rather than talking about the real issues at hand.

It seems there's a whole bunch of folks who want to talk about anything EXCEPT the fact the board has apparently done absolutely nothing about this issue for nearly three weeks now. You want to blame me for their silence and inaction and that's just ridiculous.

But I'll tell you what, I'll offer another option.

You say that any of us are free to walk in to the ONF Offices and "speak our piece" well, that's not entirely true and as you know full well, I explained why long ago.

BUT!

If the Board of Directors will come in here and tell us they are not going to do anything, that I will not have to go into those offices and be embarrassed because I've been cut off at the ankles by my fellow geocachers, then I will handle this situation myself.

But I will NOT put myself in the position of walking into those offices to be made a fool of by a "Board of Directors" who claims to represent the geocachers of Arkansas when in reality, they won't even TALK to the geocachers of Arkansas.

So here it is. I say to you, to the Board, and to everyone else "Friend" and "Foe" alike...

Lead, follow, or get out of the way.

And from now until the Board deigns to start speaking to us Little People again, I'm going to end every post the same way because apparently everyone keeps missing it.

If the AGA Board of Directors will stop acting like some sort of Secret Society and open an HONEST, TWO WAY, discourse with FULL AND IMMEDIATE DISCLOSURE with the membership of the AGA, I will INSTANTLY shift gears and do all I can to help them solve the ONF problem.

If the AGA Board of Directors will stop acting like some sort of Secret Society and open an HONEST, TWO WAY, discourse with FULL AND IMMEDIATE DISCLOSURE with the membership of the AGA, I will INSTANTLY shift gears and do all I can to help them solve the ONF problem.

If the AGA Board of Directors will stop acting like some sort of Secret Society and open an HONEST, TWO WAY, discourse with FULL AND IMMEDIATE DISCLOSURE with the membership of the AGA, I will INSTANTLY shift gears and do all I can to help them solve the ONF problem.

How many times do I have to say it?

ArkGeo_Board
05-17-2008, 01:35 PM
See new thread under "From the Board".

The Board asks that the new thread be reserved for specific comments about the plan from members and the status of actions taken from the Board. General discussions about the Ouachita policy and the expression of opinions about the Board’s actions should be posted under this existing thread here in the "Arkansas Geoaching" section.

Team Panda
05-17-2008, 02:05 PM
May I suggest that this thread be locked so we can all move over to the new thread and begin discussion on the coming issues?

Thank you for your response.

oenavigator
05-17-2008, 05:49 PM
:D

oenavigator
05-23-2008, 02:05 PM
:D

mountainborn
05-24-2008, 07:49 AM
Butcherknife and I had plans to expand our cache loop out in the ONF's Brushy Creek Recreation area. But, it doesn't look like that will be allowed.
It appears that they ( ONF Managers ), may "grandfather in" those existing caches, not actively seek and remove them.
If the cache loop is allowed to stay in place, we will find other ways to compliment and expand it.
Waymarking is one such way. We have several waymarks logged in the brushy creek area.
Wherigo is another. I would like to learn enough about wherigo to be able to combine a wherigo adventure with the waymarks and the cache loop, making a outdoors activity series that would fill a three day weekend of camping out in the Ouachita national Forest.
Anybody have any experience and or advice on a project like that ?
Input on how the ONF managers might view such an expansion ?

AR-HICK
06-23-2008, 11:23 PM
And everyone thought this thread was dead.

Here is what I am going to do and I think we all need to do this.
I am e-mailing my Senators and Congressman this week. I may even send a snail mail to them.

I am going to ask for their help to remove the $57.00 User Fee for placing geocaches in the Ouachita National Forrest. I think that if everyone does this we might be able to at least get a response from one of our representatives. The more of us who send a letter the better our chances will be of getting help. This will require a little effort from everyone.
I have looked up the e-mail and addresses for you. You just need to write a nice letter in your own words explaining how the fee is unjustly hurting our sport. Copy it and send it to both Senators and your Representative.
I am also going to e-mail every cacher I know and ask them to do the same. I am doing this to help everyone and you should too.
The caches I have found in this part of the state are to beautiful not to be shared with everyone.
1.8 million acres holds a lot possiablites for caches.

Start typing NOW!


The Honorable Vic Snyder
1330 Longworth
Washington, D.C. 20515
(202) 225-2506
http://www.house.gov/snyder/
e-mail
http://www.house.gov/snyder/contact-form.shtml

Mike Ross
314 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
1-800-223-2220
http://ross.house.gov/
e-mail
http://ross.house.gov/?sectionid=77&sectiontree=76,77

John Boozman
1519 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-4301
http://www.boozman.house.gov/
e-mail
https://forms.house.gov/wyr/welcome.shtml

Marion Berry
2305 Rayburn H.O.B.
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-4076
http://www.house.gov/berry/
e-mail
http://www.house.gov/berry/zipauth.shtml

Blanche Lincoln
355 Dirksen Senate Building
Washington, D.C.20510-0404
202-224-4843 (Office)
http://lincoln.senate.gov/index.cfm
e-mail
http://lincoln.senate.gov/webform.html

Mark Pryor
255 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: (202) 224-2353
Toll Free from AR: (877) 259-9602
http://pryor.senate.gov/
e-mail
http://pryor.senate.gov/contact/

Team_Pink
06-25-2008, 05:44 AM
Thanks for doing that footwork to make it easier for the rest of us Mike!

Participation is the hallmark of democracy and in many ways pays back those who have suffered to make it possible. Even though this particular issue is not exactly life and death in the grand scheme of things, the process is. Write those letters and make a promise to yourself to participate in the outcome of our collective futures by saving those addresses and using them not only on this occasion but other ones as well.

Gaddiel
06-26-2008, 07:50 AM
Thanks for posting this, AR-HICK!

I will also add that a handwritten letter cannot be mass-produced or computer generated. For this reason, most representatives give much more credence to handwritten letters.

Wayne

AR-HICK
06-27-2008, 06:44 AM
Everyone if you have not sent a e-mail yet please do it this weekend.
If the staff sees a bunch of e-mails on Monday Morning maybe they will check into this.
I will be resending mine over the weekend.

Start Typing

QuartzCachers
06-27-2008, 05:42 PM
Good show Mike! I am resending mine, and sending a handwritten version via snail mail. Let's make some noise with these folks, and let them know we exist! 8)

flannelman
07-02-2008, 09:02 PM
I think I will send this log along with my letter and an explainaion of our plight. Maybe it will help them understand what geocaching means for our forrests and families.

Location: Arkansas, United States
OEnavigators found Hernando's Hide Away (Traditional Cache) at 7/1/2008

Log Date: 7/1/2008
We were enjoying a wonderful day of geocaching and exploring this area of the Ouachita's. As we were nearing this cache location We really had no idea of what to expect. I was astounded when we arrived. This place is amazing!
All three of our children made an immediate beeline for the spring. I am still just awed at how it was gushing from the wall beneath the pavilion. It was a spectacular sight to see.
My wife followed in tow behind the kids while I tried to find the cache. It took me a lot longer than it should have but I finally spotted the elusive treasure and brought it with me as I headed to the pavilion.
I sat on one of the hand hewn log benches. I let the kids take a cup and drink some of the cool refreshing water from the spring. I even had a cup or two myself.[:D]
One of my favorite geocaching treats is reading all the entries in the logbook. It was nice to see page after page of other geocachers writing their thanks and exclaiming their unified exclaim of how beautiful this place is. As I sat there and read the logs, several butterflies flew around and even landed on me several times. I sat there listening to the kids laugh with butterflies dancing around me and was awed. A moment I'll never forget.
My wife grabbed some snacks from the car while the kids turned their attention to the small waterfall nearby. They gleefully splashed around the small pool there while my wife took photos.
They came back to snack and took - a toy tractor, and a Hello Kitty necklace. I cleaned out all of the accumulated trash from the cache.(loose pieces of toys no longer there, business cards, various bits of junk left behind.)
Left - Shrek toy, Camp Lazlo toy, USA jeweled tattoos, Flushed Away toy, travelers sewing kit, black micro w/log, David Medlyn signature button, two girls buttons, and a livestrong bracelet.
I also dropped off the newly revived "Graceland or Bust!" TB. Just seemed like a good place for it to re-start its journey. The cache is stuffed now and will hopefully remain that way for awhile.
I returned the cache to its hiding spot ready for the next traveler to enjoy this beautiful location. When I got back we all enjoyed a snack and as the kids put on some dry clothes I thought I'd grab a photo of the little waterfall.
As I carefully made my way over the wet rocks for just the perfect angle, my left leg shot out from underneath me and I crashed onto the rocks knees first finally ending up on my side in the creek. Ow!
I jumped up and grabbed the picture and limped my way back to the pavilion. As I approached my wife yelled "Oh my God!"
It was then that I noticed that my left shin looked like someone had cut a baseball in half and inserted it under my skin. It was bleeding quite freely to. I sat down while my wife examined me and said I needed an ice pack. My hero of an eight year old son ran to the car and placed some ice from the cooler in the zip lock bag his snack had been in and brought it back to take care of Dad. It was so thoughtful and I was very proud.
My wound tended we finished snacks and then decided it was sadly time to say goodbye to this incredible place. We enjoyed our time here immensely and thank you for sharing this unique location with us. To think this place of amazing beauty would have gone undiscovered by our family if not for this game and your efforts in placing a cache here. Thank you.

oenavigator
07-03-2008, 11:39 PM
:D

jclaudii
07-05-2008, 09:28 AM
I have a few suggestions. 1. is to try and appeal and get in touch with the appeal reviewing officer (ARO). I am pretty sure the time frame to file an appeal (45 days) has passed already, but we/AGA could ask them if this is possible.

The other area I am looking at is the actual policy referenced in CW's e-mail on the first page. Here is the policy they are using to justify the usage of the fee: Title 36 Part 251 subpart b 251.57 Rental fees.
(a) Except as otherwise provided in this part or when specifically authorized by the Secretary of Agriculture, special use authorizations shall require the payment in advance of an annual rental fee as determined by the authorized officer.

(1) The fee shall be based on the fair market value of the rights and privileges authorized, as determined by appraisal or other sound business management principles.

(2) Where annual fees of one hundred dollars ($100) or less are assessed, the authorized officer may require either annual payment or a payment covering more than one year at a time. If the annual fee is greater than one hundred dollars ($100), holders who are private individuals (that is, acting in an individual capacity), as opposed to those who are commercial, other corporate, or business or government entities, may, at their option, elect to make either annual payments or payments covering more than one year.

(3) A base cabin user fee for a recreation residence use shall be 5 percent of the market value of the recreation residence lot, established by an appraisal conducted in accordance with the Act of October 11, 2000 (16 U.S.C. 6201–13).

Here is the link to the above along with the SECTION B & D that could have something we can use to justify the fee not being charged.[\b]
(b) All or part of the fee may be waived by the authorized officer, when equitable and in the public interest, for the use and occupancy of National Forest System land in the following circumstances:
(2) The holder is a nonprofit association or nonprofit corporation, which is not controlled or owned by profit-making corporations or business enterprises, and which is engaged in public or semi-public activity to further public health, safety, or welfare, except that free use will not be authorized when funds derived by the holder through the authorization are used to increase the value of the authorized improvements owned by the holder, or are used to support other activities of the holder; or

(d) No fee shall be charged when the authorization is for a noncommercial group use as defined in §251.51 of this subpart.

From 251.51
Definition: Noncommercial use or activity —any use or activity that does not involve a commercial use or activity as defined in this section.

Commercial use or activity —any use or activity on National Forest System lands (a) where an entry or participation fee is charged, or (b) where the primary purpose is the sale of a good or service, and in either case, regardless of whether the use or activity is intended to produce a profit.
http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&sid=bb24e62415e4c67b22d96df48b47d8d8&rgn=div8&view=text&node=36:2.0.1.1.16.2.29.8&idno=36

Please let me know how you interpret this section. I believe they are confused on what geocaching is and is not or assigned the wrong policy to it to begin with.

Thanks for your thoughts.

jclaudii
07-05-2008, 09:54 AM
I think this may be "the one" right here:

Title 36: Parks, Forests, and Public Property part 251 subpart b (special uses)

(c) A special use authorization is not required for noncommercial recreational activities, such as camping, picnicking, hiking, fishing, boating, hunting, and horseback riding, or for noncommercial activities involving the expression of views, such as assemblies, meetings, demonstrations, and parades, unless:

I wonder why geocaching is not in there? It can be argued that geocaching is just like many of the activities listed. I sure hope someone contacts the ONFS and see what they say when you ask them about the above sections and where geocaching fits in.

QuartzCachers
07-06-2008, 06:02 AM
Could we be considered under the umbrella of Groundspeak, and therefore a for profit enterprise? Just curious.

AR-HICK
07-07-2008, 09:18 AM
I have been contacted by Mark Pryor's Office this morning. They requested a signed letter to get started checking into this issue.
Has anyone else been contacted?

jclaudii
07-07-2008, 10:18 AM
I have not sent anything off yet as I was researching the issue more on my own. It seems someone from the board could call the Ouachita NFS and see if the information about geocaching being placed in the wrong "special use" category could be fixed. If they say that it cannot be easily fixed, then it looks like we get in touch with their Appeal Reviewing Officer to file an appeal against geocaching as a special use. I guess having the backing of a Senator would go a little ways.

Where does the AGA stand now as far as action goes and communications that have taken place?

Gaddiel
07-07-2008, 05:55 PM
Where does the AGA stand now as far as action goes and communications that have taken place?

OldRiverRunner contacted me a few weeks ago about the nonprofit exemption clause. He was the one that contacted the NF about this, so he can probably give you more detail about it, but here is the gist, as I understand it:

The Region 8 office of the National Forest in Atlanta has told us that the local NF office is responsible for determining what activities are exempt from fees. However, the local office refuses to exempt geocaching and seems to be under the impression that they are governed by some regional policy. It seems as though we are at an impasse.

We are still collecting signatures for the petition. I've dropped the ball a bit on this, but I'll be posting this form to the web site soon, so that everyone can download, print, and distribute it. Also, we encourage everyone to send a handwritten letter to your representative, as was suggested by AR-Hick.

Wayne

flannelman
07-07-2008, 06:01 PM
I haven't gotten anything back yet other than the standard auto reply. I'll let ya know if I do get anything.

OldRiverRunner
07-07-2008, 08:52 PM
I apologize for not posting earlier. Contrary to what some might think, the Board has been taking some action as Gaddiel has indicated. On behalf of the Board, I personnally have had a lot of communication with both the National Forest Region 8 headquarters in Atlanta and with an official with the Ouachita NF. This communication has included telephone discussions as well as emails. My only excuse for not posting something earlier is that I am very frustrated with the responses I have received and I just wanted to cool down a little before I told what I had found. Frankly, I feel like I have been talking to a brick wall.

First, to address jclaudii's posting:


I think this may be "the one" right here:

Title 36: Parks, Forests, and Public Property part 251 subpart b (special uses)

(c) A special use authorization is not required for noncommercial recreational activities, such as camping, picnicking, hiking, fishing, boating, hunting, and horseback riding, or for noncommercial activities involving the expression of views, such as assemblies, meetings, demonstrations, and parades, unless:

I wonder why geocaching is not in there? It can be argued that geocaching is just like many of the activities listed. I sure hope someone contacts the ONFS and see what they say when you ask them about the above sections and where geocaching fits in.

From my discussions with the Region 8 office in Atlanta, the act of geocaching (i.e., searching for a geocache hidden on NF land) does NOT require a permit and is considered a form of recreation like hiking. This is what is covered by the section quoted above.

However, the placement of a geocache on NF land DOES require a permit because the geocache hider is leaving private property on NF land. According to the NF office, this is not allowed by federal regulation without a special use permit. (See quoted section below for further discussion.)

Someone has asked earlier in this thread, "What about deer stands?" Well, I asked them the same question and was told, "Deer stands are private property and it is illegal to leave them on NF land without a permit. If we find them, we remove them."

For everyone's information, here is the section of the Region 8 policy which is being applied.


2724.44 - Treasure Hunting

1. This designation includes the temporary placement of personal property for the purpose of geo-caching. 36 CFR 261.10(a) requires aspecial use authorization for occupancy and use of National Forestsystem land. This is further supported by 36 CFR 261.10(e) that prohibits abandoning personal property on National Forest system land.

2. Screen proposals to locate traditional (physical) caches using 36 CFR 251.54. Authorize traditional caches on FS 2700-5 Temporary Special Use Permit. The GPS coordinates of the caches must be included on the permit. Charge the regional minimum fee.

3. Traditional cache containers shall not exceed 12” on any side (height, width, or depth). Containers must be non-breakable, animal resistant, and have a closing mechanism to prohibit content exposure to wildlife and the environment. Containers must be permanently marked with the Holder’s permit ID, Name, address, and telephone number. Caches may not contain food, alcohol, tobacco, weapons of any type, fireworks, drugs, or other similar items. Caches may not be buried or hidden under water. Caches may not be placed in dangerous,i nappropriate, or protected areas and habitats.

4. Virtual caches do not require an authorization. A virtual cache is a physical object that can be referenced through latitude and longitude. A virtual cache could be a geologic or unique feature orunusual landmark. Encourage use of virtual caches opposed to traditional caches.

5. Activities similar to geo-caching (for example, GPS StashHunt, Benchmark Hunting, Letterboxing, Geo-Poker) shall be administered in accordance with Geo-caching. Competitive events involving a participation fee will be authorized as a recreation event.

6. The activity of searching for geo-caches is a personal recreation pursuit and does not require an authorization.

7. Forests may adopt more restrictive policy on geocaching activities, such as restricting geocaching to virtual caches only.

It should be noted that Region 8 is the only national forest region which has implemented a regional policy on geocache placement. Some individual forests in other regions have established their own policies, but this was not done on a regional level. Region 8 established their own policy because of geocaching abuses seen in some national forests in the East, particularly in NC, GA, and VA. The examples I was provided generally had to do with placement of geocaches in high use areas, resulting in "geo-trails' being formed in sensitive areas, which ultimately led to erosion damage. So the officials at the NF Region 8 headquarters decided that they needed to establish a policy so they would have some level of control - and knowledge- of items being left on public lands under their responsibility.

The Ozark NF policy does not comply with the Region 8 policy in that no fee is charged. I would not be surprised to see them (Ozark) change that practice some time in the future to be in compliance with the regional policy.

I asked for, and received, a copy of the criteria for waiving a fee for a special use permit. I was told that geocaching did not meet any of the criteria. However, my review of it noted a couple of possible critieria that might apply, having to do with special projects and the exchange of something of equal value. Based upon this, I proposed to both the Regional office and the Ouachita NF that the $57 fee be waived or reduced if ArkGeo sponsored a CITO event in the forest, at an area of their choosing, and at a frequency to be negotiated. I presented this idea as a service project that would benefit both parties. I used the recent Lake Catherine CITO as an example of how this partnership would work, since ArkGeo had been granted a waiver of fees for the use of the pavilion for the Social and the CITO because of the cleanup activities performed during the CITO. As Gaddiel has mentioned, the regional office deferred the decision to the Ouachita office. And here is the response I received from the Ouachita office:


Thank you for your interest in partnering with the Ouachita NF on mutually beneficial projects. Some of our Districts may be interested in developinga partnership with the AR Geocachers Assoc.; however, since I am located in the Forest Supervisor's office, and am not aware of any opportunities to partner on projects.

To answer your question on whether or not the Ouachita would enter into a partnership with the ArkGeo for the purpose of allowing ArkGeo to perform a service project in lieu of paying the land use fees due for a permit to occupancy and use of National Forest System lands; the answer is no. The Comptroller General determined that to enter into this type of transaction would be improper on the grounds that it would constitute an unauthorized augmentation of appropriated funds. To further explain; When Congress makes an appropriation to fund an agency, Congress is authorizing the agency to operate at a certain level. To permit an agency to operate beyond a level authorized by Congress with funds derived from another source, amounts to usurpation of the congressional prerogative.

To provide some clarification of the waiver criteria cited in your email,the Agency may waive the fees for permits issued for those activities that are set out in MOUs, partnerships or cooperative agreements. For instance, if the Forest had an agreement with a University to do a research study of a river, then the occupancy of National Forest System land for the research activity would qualify for a waiver of land use fees because the University was doing the research through an agreement for the Forest Service. No similar situation exists with the placement of geocaches on the Forest. There is no benefit to the Forest or to the programs of the Secretary of Agriculture derived from the placement of the cache, it is only a enjoyable recreational pursuit for members of the public. Thenecessity for a permit is a consequence of the activity involving the placement of personal property on the Forest for a period of time. Leaving personal property on the Forest without a permit is a violation of Forest prohibitions contained in the regulations. If the cache were virtual, no permit would be required.

The Arkansas State Parks may have exceptions to payment of fees for park facilities but our direction is to respect the role of Congress in appropriating funding to operate the National Forests.

It is the part in BOLD above that really has me confused, frustrated, and a little angry. As Gaddiel has stated, it seems that we are at an impasse.

This subject is a topic on this week's agenda for the Board meeting, so we will discussing ideas for what to do next at that time. I also know that our Community Relations Committee is having some discussion among themselves to see if they can come up with something.

Old River Runner

jclaudii
07-08-2008, 09:52 AM
The definition of Abandon:
Function:
adjective
Date:
14th century
1 : wholly free from restraint 2 : given up : forsaken

I would argue that we are not giving up ownership of our geocache because we placed it on NFS property. We should apply for a free permit that takes down our caches coords, our name, address, and telephone number, and possibly a Driver License #. I would take the meaning of abandoning to drop it off and never return to it. I don't plan on doing that with any of my caches. Abandoning could happen with some of the caches and I'm sure if the NFS Cache Approver would let us(AGA) know, someone would pick it up or re-apply for the permit in their name.


2724.44 - Treasure Hunting

1. This designation includes the temporary placement of personal property for the purpose of geo-caching. 36 CFR 261.10(a) requires aspecial use authorization for occupancy and use of National Forestsystem land. This is further supported by 36 CFR 261.10(e) that prohibits abandoning personal property on National Forest system land.



The examples I was provided generally had to do with placement of geocaches in high use areas, resulting in "geo-trails' being formed in sensitive areas, which ultimately led to erosion damage.

This could be combated by the policy the Ozark NFS already has in place. The cache needs to be renewed every year by a NFS Ranger or Approver. It seems in a years time, the NFS or volunteers of the NFS would check up on a cache or two to make sure the "geo trails" are being kept to a minimum.

The code they referenced 36 CFR 251.54 is mainly for commercial groups. We are a noncommercial group correct? Even in the fees section they usually refer to charging only the commercial groups.

Just doing some thinking today.

AR-HICK
07-08-2008, 10:57 AM
I would like to suggest that all letters sent to Mark Pryor's Office be sent to:
Sen. Mark Pryor
The River Market
500 Clinton Ave
Suite 401
Little Rock, AR 72201
Phone: (501) 324-6336

If you have already sent something to his Washington Office please send another to his Little Rock Office.
They will be working on this issue.

Gaddiel
07-08-2008, 03:25 PM
I would argue that we are not giving up ownership of our geocache because we placed it on NFS property.

Absolutely right. I'm confident that we could make that case.

It seems that the local office is where the holdup is. The Regional office has told us that, in regard to this issue, the local office can do whatever it wants. However, the local office says this is not the case.

Wayne

oenavigator
07-08-2008, 10:01 PM
:D

jclaudii
07-09-2008, 09:26 AM
Does anyone have the number of geocaches in the Ouachita NFS? On top of that, does anyone have the number of people who has found each cache to get an idea of traffic?

jclaudii
07-10-2008, 08:56 AM
I got my response back from Senator Pryor's office today. It was not just an automated response, as the note stated he is aware of the issue and is looking into it and to check back in a few weeks to see what progress has been made.

From my initial look in Google Earth with Cache view, it seems there are around 140-160 geocaches in and around the Ouachita NFS.

You know, if we get some of our facts completely straight and written down, it seems that one of the news stations like todaysthv channel 11 would do a news story on this topic. I think this would be something for our media liaisons for AGA to tackle. It would also be a great way for people to be aware of the petition and get their name on it.

:D

Gaddiel
07-10-2008, 10:07 AM
Petition form has been added to the "Forms" area of the Downloads (http://www.arkgeocaching.org/modules.php?name=Downloads) section.

AR-HICK
07-10-2008, 10:21 PM
Suggestion to all Cachers. Print off a few copies of the petition and take them to work. With a litte bit of encouragement you can get it filled up quickly. 8)
I did it and you can too. :D

AR-HICK
08-07-2008, 07:59 AM
Dear Mr. Beavers:



Thank you for contacting my office regarding geocaching in the Ouachita National Forest. I appreciate hearing from you.



The fee that is associated with the special use permit was established by the Ouachita National Forest. Should you have specific concerns regarding this matter, feel free to share your comments with the Ouachita National Forest at R8_ouachita_info@fs.fed.us or 501-321-5202.



I look forward to hearing from you in the future.





Sincerely

Vic Snyder
Member of Congress

I'm not impressed. I will be contacting someone in the near future.

jclaudii
08-07-2008, 09:49 AM
Just got off a call from Zach, a Congressional Legislative Assistant, about the caching policies in the Ouachita NFS. He likes getting outside when he can and hits the George Washington NFS up in Virgina for hiking and such. He was not familiar with geocaching, but he has started doing research on it. He says he'll dig around some more for us and give the guys at the Ouachita NFS a call to see if they can explain why they are charging us a fee.

I also let him know that there have been several of us who have e-mailed the office of Boozman and even wrote letters in on the same subject. He says he'll try and put them all together and find time to read through them. I also informed him of our action of gathering signatures against the fee.

I have his number in DC, send me a PM for it if you would like to give him a call. I told him if he does not get what he is looking for from the Ouachita NFS to give me a call again and I will send him some of the policies we have found that they are referring too.

Slow moving, but at least my e-mail got read! :)

oenavigator
08-07-2008, 12:29 PM
:D

flannelman
08-07-2008, 10:34 PM
I talked to the lady at Ouachita State Park about placing some caches there and we got on this subject. She said that she talked to some of the local ONF gus about this and pretty much told them how stupid this all is and they agreed with her but they say they have to follow the region policy. This is all due to some bureaucrat that has no clue what geocaching is. Hopefully we can get something done.

Hey Hick, that response from Synder doesn't supprise me. I don't have much use for him, never have.

jclaudii
08-25-2008, 08:28 AM
Any progress?

I e-mailed channel 11 'Todays THV' about the Ouachita NFS fee for geocaching, but they have not picked up on it. Perhaps if more people e-mailed THV and we could get the media interested in it, it would at least put some more light on it.

OldRiverRunner
08-27-2008, 07:28 PM
See the post I just made under "From the Board" about new information on the Ouachita NF geocaching policy.

ORR

OldRiverRunner
09-08-2008, 10:04 AM
The following letter was received by another member of ArkGeo, who then forwarded it to me for posting, as they wished to remain anonymous. It provides a few more details about the ONF's changing position and it puts into a formal communication information that matches what I had been told over the phone from an official at the ONF. -- ORR


File Code: 1510
Date: August 29, 2008

Honorable Mark Pryor
United States Senator
Attn: Jim Pitcock
River Market
500 Clinton Avenue, Suite 401
Little Rock, AR 72201

Dear Senator Pryor:

Thank you for your interest in the Ouachita National Forest. This letter is in response to your previous inquiries regarding the forest’s Geocaching policy.

The Ouachita National Forest has received quite a few inquiries regarding this activity. It is a legitimate use of the forest and an activity that encourages a whole new segment of recreational visitors to enjoy their national forests.

Our staff has been working with the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests and our regional office in Atlanta, GA to determine the most recent agency guidelines for this activity, where both forests’ policies would be as similar as possible in this respect.

The Ouachita and Ozark-St. Francis are finalizing the exact language; however, the following will be the basic policy/procedure for the national forests in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

When a geocacher wants to establish/ renew a geocache on public land managed by the US Forest Service, he/she will be able to go to the forest website and print an information sheet that explains the policy / procedure and requests some basic information regarding the geocacher, the proposed location, and the contents of the cache.

The geocacher will then take that information to the district office that manages that area of the proposed location to discuss with the district manager. If the district manager determines that there would be little or no impact, then they will accept the information on the site. The district manager would work with them to determine when the site information would need to be renewed or updated. There would be no fee associated with this.

However, if the location would potentially cause impacts then the proponent would be asked to change locations of the cache. Otherwise, that could trigger more analysis and potential fees that would be associated with the land use and potentially the environmental analysis. This would typically be very rare.

We appreciate your patience as we work through this process. This should be an equitable process for everyone involved and will encourage this “light on the land” activity. If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact Tracy Farley, Public Affairs Team Leader at 479-964-7232.

Sincerely,

/S/ NORMAN L. WAGONER
NORMAN L. WAGONER
Forest Supervisor

SJClimber
09-10-2008, 08:48 PM
Glad you posted this. Jim Pitcock in Senator Pryor's office really went to bat for us on this. After receipt of this letter a week ago, I responded with a note to Jim and Senator Pryor thanking them for their help. I'm sure they would like to hear from others in the ArkGeo. This is a reasonable compromise by the NFS, no? Onward/SJC

oenavigator
12-20-2008, 09:04 PM
:D

topkitty98
12-20-2008, 09:57 PM
Wonderful!

flannelman
12-23-2008, 05:37 AM
Great News!!! I was contacted Friday by our district ranger who had a meeting earlier this week and they are almost done with the permits. The really great news is he is allowing me to use the Ozark permit for now and start getting some caches hidden!!!

When you get some contact info could you pass it on please. I need to get my caches that are already out there permitted. And I'd like to hide some more.

oenavigator
12-23-2008, 01:53 PM
:D

QuartzCachers
05-07-2009, 05:58 AM
Just wanted to let everybody know. I got my letter in the mail yesterday, and the six caches that I have in the ONF are now legal! I have some others that I want to place now, so I will be doing that soon. There is, in fact, one that was already placed by another cacher, that they wanted me to get approved. This will be my first one. In fact I talked to Ms. Vaughn about it, and she said that it didn't sound like any problem. She did say, however, that she would not be approving any caches in areas that were enviromentaly sensitive. Meaning caves, streambeds, and areas where there is rare and endangered plant life (lady's slipper was mentioned).
Just thought y'all might want to know. 8) 8) 8)

Dentful1
05-07-2009, 11:35 AM
Thank you for the update Bruce. Was there any mention of a MAX number of caches that a cacher can place in the National Forest? Cause if there was, I am sure you have went way over your limit. :lol: :lol: :lol:

QuartzCachers
05-07-2009, 04:17 PM
No, not exactly. I DID mention that I wanted to place a string of them from Hwy 7 to Hwy 9, going through the mountains there. She kinda just stared at me and swallowed hard, wondering what she had gotten into, I think, but she didn't say no, so......
I am looking forward to getting more out there, because I know some awesome views to see. I would like to get people out here to go through the auto tour and find some caches! It is a great place, so let's see what happens.
And no, I don't think I can put out just one at a time. It's against my nature to do almost anything one at a time! :lol:

jclaudii
05-11-2009, 02:22 PM
I would also like to add that I too have had success getting three new cache locations approved via the Ouachita NFS. We talked it out several times before she finally understood enough of what I was talking about. I have two that she is a little iffy about mainly because one is very close to a river, and the other is close to a drainage basin. I think she told me she does not get out and scope the sites out, instead she relies on topos of the area. One of the roads my caches was on was very close to a creek or drainage basin, and I had to assure her I was on the main path and within walking distance from the highway and should not hurt the basin area at all.

I used some of the traffic the Ozark caches see in a typical year and told her that caches in the NFS usually have a high traffic rate (usually less than 20) the first month and after that there is usually a trickle every month. I also told her that the find rates usually go with the season as once ticks,snakes, bugs, and heat are out in full force, geocaching will usually slack off in the forest areas. I think she really expected a lot more traffic for these areas, and I told her that we have had one cache in place about 100 feet off a FS road and 30 feet from Richland Creek and have only had about 30 people total find it in about 3 years. I think it will take some time to see how this plays out, but for now she is willing to see how it works.

My three caches are going to be ammo cans on highway 27/28 mainly between Mount Ida and Plainview. One has a dump as you go in so I am urging everyone to bring a good trashbag with them and help pick up. I would love to see pictures of everyones trash (even if its just what they can carry in there hands) so we can use it as a positive spin on geocaching. I will let you all know when the three caches go live. I was hoping to get them put up last month but it took over a month for her to check them out and approve them. So now you'll all have to find them with critters out and about :(

Ms. Vaughn (rvaughn@fs.fed.us) or call 501-984-5313 and just ask for her.