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ArkGeo_Board
05-17-2008, 01:31 PM
The Board of Directors has unanimously agreed upon and is currently working on a set of actions to address the issue of fees being charged for permits for geocaches placed in the Ouachita National Forest. The Board has also agreed that its focus will be on the elimination of the fees, but not the permits. This would make the Ouachita NF policy consistent with that implemented in 2006 by the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest. Input from the ArkGeo members was requested before the list of actions was finalized for general membership release. We wish to thank those who contacted us to provide specific, constructive suggestions and helped us on this.

The specific actions to be taken are as follows:

1) Start a petition of geocachers in support of eliminating the fee.
2) Contact each one of the National Forest offices in Region 8 and survey their requirements for geocache placement.
3) Set up a meeting with an official of the Ouachita NF to present the results and propose the elimination of the fee. This meeting should be limited to three representatives from ArkGeo (including no more than 2 Board members). Here are the things we would need to have ready:

a. Findings from our survey of the Region 8 offices.
b. Petition results
c. A list of geocaches currently hidden in national forests of Arkansas.
d. A copy of the Ozark NF policy

A draft petition has been prepared, but formal requirements for the petition are being researched by a Board member to ensure that the petition is not rejected on a technicality. It is expected, however, that the petition will be ready for members to sign at the annual social event at Lake Catherine State Park on May 31.

Emails have been sent from a Board member to the supervisors in each of the Region 8 national forest headquarters soliciting information regarding their official geocaching policies and associated fees, if any. No responses have been received yet.

Chuck Walla, the Geocaching.com geocache reviewer for Arkansas, has also notified us that a topic has been posted on the reviewers-only forum at GC.com about national forest policies with regard to permits (particularly fees). The Board is waiting on a response from Chuck Walla on the final results of that forum inquiry. However, the initial results provided about a week ago identified no other national forests that charged a fee for a geocache permit.

A list of geocaches in the Ozark and Ouachita National Forests still needs to be prepared. This will be delegated to a non-Board member. Volunteers are needed.

The meeting with the Ouachita NF remains to be scheduled. The group of ArkGeo representatives to attend the meeting will be selected by the Board from recommendations by the members of ArkGeo. Recommendations should be provided by email or private message to one of the Board members no later than May 30. Once the ArkGeo representatives are selected, they will be tasked with scheduling and preparing for the meeting with the Ouachita NF.

The Board recognizes that additional actions may be warranted, either before or after the meeting with the Ouachita NF official. If any ArkGeo member has a recommendation on some other action that should be considered by the Board, please post a note to this thread or send one of the Board members an email with your recommendation.

The Board asks that this 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 in the existing thread under the “Arkansas Geocaching” forum section.

As always, the Board appreciates any volunteers to help with carrying out this plan.

searcykid
05-17-2008, 02:19 PM
Thank you very much for your post here in response to the NFS charging fees to place caches.
This plan is exactly what I was hoping the Board was going to do.
If you have the petition ready by the 31st of May I will certainly sign it.
I will support your efforts in any way I can except personally being the spokesman to the NFS.. I am the one that gets tongue tied talking to strangers.
Thank you again.

Team Panda
05-17-2008, 03:01 PM
The Board has also agreed that its focus will be on the elimination of the fees, but not the permits.

I for one, do not feel this is a decision that is the Board's to make without (after an appropriate opportunity for discussion) formally putting the question to the membership of AGA.

I believe, if we act intelligently, we have just as good a chance of repealing the entire permit system all across Region 8 and possibly the entire country as we have of knocking down the fee requirement. But no matter what, we're only going to get one shot at this. If we waste the shot knocking down the fees and don't even try to remove the permit policy, we're missing the only opportunity we're ever going to have.


1) Start a petition of geocachers in support of eliminating the fee.


I am unclear exactly what the purpose of this petion is. Who is to be petitioned what (roughly) is being petitioned, and who is the petition to be submitted to?


3) Set up a meeting with an official of the Ouachita NF to present the results and propose the elimination of the fee. This meeting should be limited to three representatives from ArkGeo (including no more than 2 Board members). Here are the things we would need to have ready:

a. Findings from our survey of the Region 8 offices.
b. Petition results
c. A list of geocaches currently hidden in national forests of Arkansas.
d. A copy of the Ozark NF policy

As long as we're being forced to deal with this issue, why should we restrict ourselves to only addressing the Ouachita NF policy? Consider for a moment, contacting the Region 8 headquarters directly, rather than setting our sights "low" on the ONF.

In other words, if we coordinate with other State Geocaching organizations throughout the Region 8 area, we will have far greater strength in numbers and will have pretty much the same likelihood of success in creating a uniform policy within the entirety of Region 8, rather than simply a uniform policy in Arkansas. After all, this is not just an Arkansas issue, it is a national issue. We should avail ourselves of as much additional weight as we can get.


A draft petition has been prepared, but formal requirements for the petition are being researched by a Board member to ensure that the petition is not rejected on a technicality. It is expected, however, that the petition will be ready for members to sign at the annual social event at Lake Catherine State Park on May 31.

Is this the same petition mentioned above? Again, what do we hope to accomplish with this?


Emails have been sent from a Board member to the supervisors in each of the Region 8 national forest headquarters soliciting information regarding their official geocaching policies and associated fees, if any. No responses have been received yet.

How long ago were these emails sent out? Did they go out in the last couple days or did they go out long enough ago that we can now assume those emails are not going to get replies?


Chuck Walla, the Geocaching.com geocache reviewer for Arkansas, has also notified us that a topic has been posted on the reviewers-only forum at GC.com about national forest policies with regard to permits (particularly fees). The Board is waiting on a response from Chuck Walla on the final results of that forum inquiry. However, the initial results provided about a week ago identified no other national forests that charged a fee for a geocache permit.

Again, I thought we knew this quite some time ago.

I strongly suggest/urge the creation of a thread on the GC.Com forums calling for support from other cachers across the nation who cache on any National Forest lands. As I said above, this isn't simply an Arkansas issue, it is a national issue.

American Geocachers should not look at the ONF as the ONLY NF that charges a fee, but rather as the FIRST one to do so. Once this is understood, it becomes everybody's issue.

Imagine for a moment, Senators and Congressmen all across the US getting a sudden barrage of letters from geocachers concerned with this issue. If only 10% of those receiving letters bothered to pick up the phone and call USDA wanting to know why they were suddenly dealing with thousands of irate constituents, I believe it's safe to say, the USDA (who answers to these elected officials and must go to them for budget appropriations) would start re-writing their geocaching policies poste haste.


A list of geocaches in the Ozark and Ouachita National Forests still needs to be prepared. This will be delegated to a non-Board member. Volunteers are needed.

Simply start a thread in the general forum asking all AGA members to list their caches by waypoint. You won't get every cache in the ONF because there are plenty of geocachers who have nothing to do with the AGA. But you won't get every cache the other way either. The numbers you DO get with a posted request on this site will be quite impressive enough.

Also, realize this particular point is a double edged sword. Showing this massive number of caches to an ONF official may very well encourage them to believe there is a great deal of revenue to be gained by leaving the policy in place.

In these times of ever increasing fuel prices, governmental entities are as hard hit as everyone else. They are looking for ways to generate revenue to stretch their operating budgets and the ONF fee policy is almost certainly such an attempt.


The meeting with the Ouachita NF remains to be scheduled. The group of ArkGeo representatives to attend the meeting will be selected by the Board from recommendations by the members of ArkGeo. Recommendations should be provided by email or private message to one of the Board members no later than May 30. Once the ArkGeo representatives are selected, they will be tasked with scheduling and preparing for the meeting with the Ouachita NF.

I recommend instead that representatives traveling to meet with any government entity be chosen not by the Board but by the Geocaching membership at large.

Nominations can be made publicly in a thread on this website. There is no need for anonymity in suggesting potential candidates. In fact, I'd say if one was unwilling to make their nomination publicly, their nomination should be disregarded.

I also argue strenuously against any relevant communcations with the board in this matter or any other, taking place out of sight of the general membership. Secrecy and lack of communication has cost us enough lately, let us put an end to it here and now. Please.


The Board recognizes that additional actions may be warranted, either before or after the meeting with the Ouachita NF official. If any ArkGeo member has a recommendation on some other action that should be considered by the Board, please post a note to this thread or send one of the Board members an email with your recommendation.

My recommendations recapped.

Individually contact other state geocaching organizations within the Region 8 Area in an effort to enlist their aid and support in this matter which affects all of us.

Begin an organized campaign on GC.Com forums to enlist the aid of any and all geocachers within the United States.

Organize a nationwide letter writing campaign, encouraging geocachers to write their own elected representatives about this issue. Letters to recommend a complete reversal of any permit or fee policy. Hunters don't have to pay a fee to use the land, why should we?

Address any and all actions to the NATIONAL level rather than local or regional offices. Use the regional and local offices as information sources and possible liason, but no more.

Thinking small gains only small victories.


The Board asks that this 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 in the existing thread under the “Arkansas Geocaching” forum section.

For the purposes of this thread, who exactly is "The Board?" When "ArkGeo_Board types, who's fingers are hitting the keys?

Who decides what words those fingers are going to type? How and when were these decisions made?

If a vote took place to decide what course the Board was going to pursue, when did the vote take place, who voted, and how did they vote?

If there was no vote, why wasn't there one? How did the Board choose a course of action without a vote?

These are things that should be reported to the AGA membership. Not just in relation to this specific issue, but always. After every meeting, whether it be regularly scheduled or special meeting.

The disclosure issue in general is a subject best served in another thread but for now I would like to see answers to these specific questions as soon as possible.

Thank you.

oenavigator
05-17-2008, 05:33 PM
:D

OldRiverRunner
05-20-2008, 08:04 PM
Here’s the status of our survey of Region 8 national forests. As of today, 5 national forests have responded as follows:

Apalachicola NF, Florida – special use permit required, $57 fee
Osceola NF, Florida – special use permit required, $57 fee
Kisatchie NF, Louisiana – special use permit required, $57 fee
Conecuh NF, Alabama – special use permit required, $50 fee
Cherokee NF, Tennessee – special use permit required, $57 fee (they also stated that their policy had been in place since April 4, 2006)

I also spoke with someone in the Ozark – St. Francis NF headquarters in Russellville today and he confirmed that the O-SF NF had not changed its policy – “permit” required (actually, just a registration) and no fee charged. He did not foresee a change in the policy.

I will provide another update once I get a few more responses in.

Old River Runner
ArkGeo Board Member

flannelman
05-22-2008, 06:37 PM
Thanks for the info!! It doesn't look like things are trending in our favor. If there are that many forrests that require the permit and fee then the ONF will see no need to change it. I think we will be able to do no more than lodge a complaint with them. Hopefully we can get something done though. Thanks for all the effort that is being put into this.

oenavigator
05-22-2008, 08:04 PM
:D

Woodwalker9
05-22-2008, 09:04 PM
How many NF are in Region 8 anyway?

OEnavigator, I just googled it and came up with 28 National Forest in Region 8 which includes Puerto Rico. It's a fairly large area. Here is a link to all the NF in Region 8.

http://gorp.away.com/gorp/resource/us_n ... soeast.htm (http://gorp.away.com/gorp/resource/us_national_forest/soeast.htm)

Team Panda
05-23-2008, 05:13 AM
Thanks for the update OOR.

To the Board:

There are two ways AGA can go from this point.

1. Tell ourselves the issue is too big, we probably can't get anything done anyway, make a half hearted effort, and fail as planned.

or...

2. Realize this issue is much larger than just Arkansas or even Region 8 and realize as well, the issue is much larger than we (The AGA) are and begin an effort to enlist the aid of other State Geocaching organizations as well as individual concerned cachers around the country.

If this policy is not challenged on a national scale, it will be the death of all geocaching in all US National Forests and we will have done nothing to stop it.

These forests belong to all of us and there is no good reason why Geocaching Americans should be deprived the use of what is in fact and in law, their land as much as any other American's.

We can organize and stand as a group or get knocked down as individuals.

oenavigator
05-23-2008, 02:00 PM
:D

SJClimber
05-23-2008, 08:42 PM
I spoke with my friend who arbitrates issues between organizations and the NFS. She thinks either an element of the service is having problems with caching (geotrails in sensitive areas, rearranging the environs when placing caches, etc..) or they feel it is an opportunity to tap a revenue stream in cash strapped times. She also feels it will take a good deal of effort (persistent and time consuming) to resend a policy once it is in place, but that it may be worth a try.

Lastly, she poses the issue if influence. Apparently, the service is sensitive to input from the public and public officials, who are influenced by their constituents. In other issues, mass mailings to the NFS and the effected congressional delegation did seem effective in altering policy.

As an aside, one of her case study areas for an off road vehicle use issue was the ONF. Their policies are polar to those of Ozark NF and most other forest areas. Outlier of sorts. May be the case in geocaching?

HikerRon
05-24-2008, 08:33 AM
I once heard it said ...
''Show me a man that sets his sights high, and i'll show you a man that shoots the antlers off his deer''

I think the elimination of fees is a commendable goal for the organization.

i would have no problem with having to obtain a permit if it was free and not too restrictive..ie; say a 30-day permit that had to be renewed over and over. - too restrictive.

oenavigator
05-24-2008, 10:21 AM
:D

OldRiverRunner
05-25-2008, 12:46 PM
She thinks either an element of the service is having problems with caching (geotrails in sensitive areas, rearranging the environs when placing caches, etc..) or they feel it is an opportunity to tap a revenue stream in cash strapped times.

Based upon the correspondence I've received from the NFS, I don't believe either of these is the reason behind the change. I have a sense that the Region 8 office, which developed this policy, doesn't have a clue about what geocaching really is. It is my impression that they think geocaching is similar to searching for "treasure" on forest lands, i.e., looking for gold or other valuable minerals. Hence the requirement is in the "special use" section of their policies and requires a "special use permit", which is also required for things like utility right of ways, water transmission, outfitting and guide services, agriculture, road right of ways, video and photography productions, etc. where some income derived from the use of the NF land. So I think we are dealing with a case of having to educate officials at the NFS what geocacing really is all about. It looks like the Ozark NF office understands!


She also feels it will take a good deal of effort (persistent and time consuming) to resend a policy once it is in place, but that it may be worth a try.

I agree. This is going to take some time and effort, and a lot of patience.


I think it would be prudent to take her advice. I would highly recommend that the board be prepared to answer questions they might get during the meeting concerning geotrails and also able to tackle the possibility that they may think this is a possible way to get funds.

Any suggestions on how to do this? I think we can point to the state parks as a shining example of geocaching being embraced by a govt. organization. Also, I believe that geotrails, even if they develop, are much less of a scar on the land than those left by some uncaring 4-wheelers. Regarding fund raising, I really doubt this is the motivation behind the permit fees.


1. Should we begin preparations for mass mailings to both the NFS and any public officials?

2. If so then when? Before or after the board's meeting?

There seems to be an impression, probably from misstatements in the Forums, that no ArkGeo member can say anything about this issue to the Ouachita NF officials, because the Board has said it will take actions to influence a change in policy. This is totally wrong. Any ArkGeo member is free to express their opinion to anyone they want about the policy, as long as they do not portray themselves as speaking officially for ArkGeo. Expressing themselves as individual and avid geocachers is, however, strongly encouraged! So, by all means, organize a mass mailing! Or, this can become part of the Board's plan and be implemented under the oversight of the group of representatives selected to meet with the forest officials. I think either approach is acceptable.

Also, there have been a lot of suggestions in the forums about what actions "someone" should take. Guess what folks. This is your organization. In other words, your help is needed to get things done. A lot of forum writers expect the Board to do everything for them. Well, we (the Board) have asked for volunteers to help us, because we can't do everything for everyone. Nor should we. Because it is your organization. So far, we've received input from a few who are willing to help. But where are the rest of you? I personnally have sent an email from the Board to one of the most vocal critics of the Board, asking their help on this effort, to take the lead on a very specific action. But so far, no response. Sad, because it will take involvement and effort from many ArkGeo members to be successful on this task. We need critics in our organization, because they help keep us questioning whether we are doing the right thing. But our critics need to be willing to do more than just talk. They need to be prepared to help. Are YOU willing to help? If so, then let one of the Board members know or sign up to help out at next week's social event at Lake Catherine.

Old River Runner

OldRiverRunner
05-25-2008, 01:06 PM
Here's a link to the Forest Service directory page for Region 8. It contains addresses and phone numbers for regional, forest, and district offices as well the names of the various officials. This will be a good reference if mass mailings are performed. -- ORR

http://www.fs.fed.us/intro/directory/rg-8.htm

QuartzCachers
05-25-2008, 02:17 PM
Thanks, ORR, for this info. Two things here. On the issue of geotrails, the State Parks require that the cache be moved a little when a geotrail starts to develop. I have no problem with this, and I have plans to move my caches that are in Lake Catherine SP, when this develops. I knew that this was a requirement when I placed them, so I looked for locations that I could move my caches by 50-100 feet when neccesary.
Second, I don't think that anyone is waiting for the board to do everything, just give us a direction on which way to go. I don't think any of us wants to say one thing, and then be contradicted by someone else. I just think we need a clear plan, with what our part is, neatly outlined. In other words a script, with all the roles and dialog, defined. I believe the membership is chomping at the bit to do what is needed and asked of us. I appreciate, so much, the efforts of the board, and all who have given their two cents worth here, to reverse this incorrect policy! I unfortunately, will not be able to attend the proceedings at LCSP this weekend, as we will be out of town for a graduation. I will make myself available to do some of the gruntwork, or whatever is required of me, right here and now. Just tell me what that is, specificly. Once again, I thank the board for all their hard VOLUNTEER work, and look forward to doing my part! :D

oenavigator
05-25-2008, 03:12 PM
:D

OldRiverRunner
05-26-2008, 09:31 AM
Let me say that I wholeheartedly agree with ORR about this. I've made similar statements in another thread. That's why I was confused when you quoted what I was asking about the mass mailing option before you made your statement. I can't possibly connect the two but just in case there was a misunderstanding on your part, or perhaps mine, I'll clarify.
Sorry, I think I misunderstood. :? I thought you were asking if you should hold off until after the ArkGeo representatives (note, not the Board) meet with the Forest officials; i.e., asking for permission from the Board to proceed with this action. Now I understand that you were just asking for input. Thanks for setting me straight! :D


As to my first question, well that was just pretty straight forward. Does anyone think it's a good idea?
I do. It would let the NF officials and the federal govt. representatives for our state know of our discontent with the policy. This was also the rationale behind the petition idea in the Board's list of actions.


Which promoted my second question. If everyone thinks it was a good idea, how should we go about it? Should we go for it before the meeting in hopes of "softening up the opposition" so to speak, or does everyone believe that doing that, as I stated before, cause more harm than good and should be a "plan b" option.
Before the meeting, definitely. I like the "softening up the opposition" analogy! It needs to be well organized, though. Perhaps a signup sheet at the upcoming social event at Lake Catherine might be a good way to recruit support.


I have volunteered my time for whatever the board may need me to do as well as PM'd Gaddiel with my suggestions as to whom I thought would best serve from both the board and the membership.(which included you BTW) I can and still will be willing to help in any way I can.
This has not gone unnoticed nor unappreciated. Thanks for being ready to do whatever needs to be done! We need more members to step up like you, though! That was the whole point I was trying to communicate!

ORR

SJClimber
05-26-2008, 06:40 PM
A point of clarification, my friend has no idea why the NFS has adopted the rules, she was just guessing (geotrails, rearranging objects in the environs, money). ORR's impressions may likely be correct, but we need communication with and collection of information from the NFS as time rolls by.

ArkGeo_Board
05-27-2008, 04:52 PM
Chuck Walla has gathered some additional information from other Geocaching.com reviewers:


Allegheny National Forest in PA has a "passive" policy, meaning that cachers (and reviewers) are on the honor system to make sure that placements comply with the specified rules. Hiders don't actually need to seek permission for each individual hide.

Wayne National Forest in Ohio, there is a form to fill out, but no fee -- an "active" policy.

flannelman
05-30-2008, 07:52 AM
I would be more than willing to help develop a letter for a mass mailing campaign. I would aslo help out in any other way that is needed. I have woked extra days to cover for some of my cowokers so that is why I haven't had much to say lately. I like what I hear so far though and I think we can make some headway with this.

OldRiverRunner
05-30-2008, 09:24 AM
I've received only one additional response in the 10 days since I last posted information received from the Region 8 national forests. This new response was for both the Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests in South Carolina. Here's what they had to say:


A permit is required for geocaching per the regional policy attached below.We would charge the minimum fee which is $57. However, the district ranger may choose to waive the permit (FSM 2719) if it is a non commercial use with nominal effects.

It is the last sentence which I find very interesting and which I believe supports my impression about the NFS not understanding what geocaching is all about.

Old River Runner
ArkGeo Board Member

SJClimber
05-31-2008, 07:38 PM
Bingo. You are onto something I believe. Great investigation ORR!!

jclaudii
06-03-2008, 09:08 AM
southerngirl and I will be hosting a CITO event in September for the Ozark National Forest around the Dover - Piney Area. This would be a GREAT time to give back to a district that understands exactly what geocaching is and thank them. I would love to pull out a few tons of trash from the forest and have that in the paper. Having a district that likes what we do is very valuable I believe.

Perhaps this is an event that AGA would like to endorse?

I know the event is a few months away, but it's never to early to signup for it. Anyways, I just thought this would be a good thing to throw into this discussion. Being able to show how geocaching helps the NFS is a great way for the ONF to view our sport.

Thanks.

BadAndy
06-11-2008, 06:23 PM
Greetings from Idaho.

I've been following this debacle for some time now and have a few observations.

First off, I believe the best course that has any chance of success is to fight to eliminate or reduce the fees.

The permit policy is unlikely to be rescinded without litigation. I doubt that this loose organization is prepared financially to support such an effort.

Second, from an outsiders perspective, the threads here on this topic suggest a group that is at odds with each other and can't decide amongst themselves what to do. To assume that the folks that make these policies won't or don't read these threads is dangerous.

Finally, it's been suggested that this group reach out to other NFS areas and survey them on what they're doing/ not doing. All this will accomplish is restricting caching in those areas as well. NFS managers adopt many of the policies of their peers in other areas. Don't help the cancer spread.

This will likely sound defeatist to some, but you must pick battles that you can win. A free permit policy is a reasonable compromise.

jclaudii
07-05-2008, 09:32 AM
Check out the other thread on this issue as I may have found something interesting.

OldRiverRunner
08-27-2008, 07:26 PM
ArkGeo members and members of the Arkansas geocaching community:

On Tuesday afternoon, August 26, I spoke with Elaine Sharp, a Lands Forester with the Ouachita National Forest, concerning any changes the NF geocache policy. She told me that the official policy has not changed but that there has been some further clarification on when a geocache would require a “special use permit” (and the permit fee of $57) and when the permit (and fee) could be waived and also how the policy is to be implemented.

The determination of whether a special use permit is required or not will be made at the District Ranger level. If someone wishes to place a geocache within the Ouachita NF, they will need to go to the District office for the area in which the geocache is to be placed and discuss it with the ranger in charge. The proposed location of the geocache and how long the owner plans to have the geocache in place will be topics of discussion. The ranger will then determine whether a special use permit is required or not. A key consideration will be whether the geocache placement will have a “nominal impact” on the area. In other words, would the Forest Service even know if it was there and would it be a problem to them in any way (such as sensitive wildlife or plant life in the area, or archaeological sites nearby, or is it a designated wilderness area)? If the answers to these questions are “no’, then the impact would be considered nominal and no permit would be required. Again, this determination would be at the discretion of the district ranger.

The key here is that you need to work with the district office to get approval for your cache placement and I think that in almost all cases, you will be able to have the permit waived. After many discussions by telephone with Forest officials in both Atlanta and Hot Springs, it is my impression that they don’t want to stop geocaching; they just want to know where the geocaches are located and they want to avoid damage to the forests.

They also don’t want geocaches placed and just abandoned in the forests, because geocaches are still considered to be “private property”. So you need to give some consideration to how long you want your geocache to be in place before you plan on removing it or asking for an extension. No specific time limit is set. Again, the time limit is at the discretion of the districts, based upon the location of the hide.

I asked Ms. Sharp about geocaches already hidden in the Ouachita NF. She recommended that the owners contact the district office, “ask for forgiveness”, and then work with the ranger to determine whether the permit can be waived. My impression was that she did not think that the “forgiveness” part would be a big deal.

So, it looks to me like there has been quite a bit of change in how the Ouachita NF will be approaching geocaches in the future. I think this new approach is just common sense – the district ranger and the geocacher working together to ensure that the public lands are protected while at the same time providing a growing recreational activity to many visitors who might not otherwise visit the Ouachita NF.

I’m not sure what drove this change. Maybe it was the letters to the senators and congressman, and their questioning of forest officials. Maybe it was the phone calls or letters to the NF office from various geocachers, which told them of the dissatisfaction with the policy. I suspect that, most likely, it was the combination of these things. Which goes to show that as a organization, WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Frank / Old River Runner
President, ArkGeo Board of Directors

idratherbehiking
08-27-2008, 08:23 PM
Thanks for the positive update on this Frank. I am going to get in touch with the ranger in the district that I have 2 caches hidden in later this week. I think all of us who have caches already hidden need to go ahead and do so as soon as possible. This will help to open lines of communication and I am sure they all still have questions that we can answer to help them to better understand what geocaching is. this is definitely a move in the right direction so lets keep it going.

flannelman
08-28-2008, 06:20 AM
Looks like we finally have some good news on this!! Thanks for all the effort everone put into this.

QuartzCachers
08-28-2008, 11:15 AM
WOOOHOOO!!! :D :D :D :D My thanks to everyone who has been involved in getting to this point! :D :D

idratherbehiking
08-29-2008, 09:16 AM
Here is a LINK (http://www.fs.fed.us/r8/ouachita/contact/districtphonenumbers.shtml) to a list of phone numbers for the ranger districts in the Ouachita national forest.

oenavigator
08-29-2008, 01:00 PM
:D

oenavigator
09-15-2008, 01:56 PM
:D

oenavigator
03-01-2009, 07:36 PM
:D

flannelman
03-03-2009, 02:27 PM
Congrats on the accomplishment. I need to get in touch with my local office and get the process started.

QuartzCachers
03-03-2009, 04:34 PM
It just so happens, that I was coming from my local USFS office, when I ran into Dentful1 at one of my caches. I talked to the lady who will be in charge of this for my district, and she was pretty skeptical. So I'll just say that I am sure glad that OEN got this one approved. Did it take long? Did you permit all of your "illegal" caches? That is what I am supposed to be doing first. I am looking forward to getting this process standardized, and in place.

oenavigator
03-03-2009, 06:34 PM
:D

AR-HICK
03-03-2009, 09:20 PM
I talked to someone at the HQ in Hot Springs today and this is a brief summary of what I was told.
The (ONF) will not be issuing permits like the Ozark NF, but they will be giving letters for permission on the placement of caches. They are not wanting to allow long term caches to be place in the forest (Over a year).
Any caches to be placed in the eastern part of the ONF will most likely have to be approved from the Jessieville office, that includes Perryville and Danville. I am unsure of how far west and south they will go.
This is all tentative information and the person I need to talk to is out of the office for the rest of the week. I will leave a voicemail this week and see if I get a reply. If not I will be making a trip to Jessieville for a in personal visit ( I have some vacation time I need to use).

I have a place I would like to put a cache as a test run for the policy. The only thing that I know is that we will have to keep on trying to do this until they figure out that we are not going away anytime soon.
If anyone wants to stop by Jessieville and discuss it with them I would like to encourage it. I will be posting more info when I have it.

oenavigator
03-03-2009, 09:48 PM
:D

QuartzCachers
03-04-2009, 06:08 AM
If anyone wants to stop by Jessieville and discuss it with them I would like to encourage it. I will be posting more info when I have it.
O.K., that is what I did on Friday. I spoke to Robin Vaughn, and the first thing she said when I asked about these, was do you want to tell me about an illegal cache already in place, or do you want to place a new one? I said maybe a little of both. :wink: She laughed and told me to follow her to her office. She told me that Elaine Sharp (I think) was the one in HS that would be approving these, and that she (Robin) is just a middle man. She told me several times that she was surprised that Elaine had relented on this. She said that Elaine had been after her to go after these things and get them, but that she (Robin) didn't have time to do that. She also told me that they had found one up by the towers on Blue Oauchita Mountain, and wondered if it were mine. I said maybe. :wink: Apparently they left it there, though it will have to be moved due to trail reconfiguration.
I got the forms, and told her that I will get them back to her to get my existing ones "legal", and that I had several that I wanted to place. She said that I was the first, and that I would be her guinea pig. So, while she is out this week, I will get these done and keep everyone posted.
I didn't leave there feeling as good as I had hoped to after this meeting, due to her skeptisism. In fact, I left with a real bad feeling, that this isn't as over as we had previously thought.
I drive right by the Jessieville office every day at least twice, but usualy before or after they are there. Due to my proximity to the office, I will be happy to take the point here in future discussions with them. I feel like I have started a good relationship with this person.

jclaudii
03-04-2009, 08:55 AM
I'm in the same boat at the moment working with whomever replies to the r8_ouachita_info address about getting a permit as well. I basically told them that I am going to be driving through 27&28 and I'm not exactly sure what district I will be in when I find the spot I want to put a cache. I basically just copied the Ozark page and sent it with info to the Ouachita address, but they replied with just this link about geocaching in the Ouachita's.
http://www.fs.fed.us/r8/ouachita/maps/d ... itting.doc (http://www.fs.fed.us/r8/ouachita/maps/documents/SpecialUsePermitting.doc)

Is Elaine Sharp the MAIN person approving caches for the Ouachita district? I know there are going to be several "small middle men" that approve it as well, but I think There was going to be one person in the district that kept the "master list" of all the caches on record. This way if a ranger(approver) switches jobs or something else, they still have someone to review and check on caches in the mean time.

I think the Ouachita district is trying to be too political with this. They are trying to be the typical government agency with red tape, etc that they hope will discourage us from placing caches on their property. I'll keep you guys posted with any info I find out.

The way I would like to see it....Is I go to the Ouachita website, I fill out a webform that ask all the questions they need. When I hit submit, the coords are checked to see which ranger district it needs to go to and is sent. A copy is also sent to the main Ouachita contact or other "storage" file. Then I get a auto response back in my e-mail that says "Thanks for requesting a NFS Geocaching permit, please allow 7-10 days to process your request. Ranger John Bob will contact you with further instructions. If you have any questions in the mean time, please call 870-xxx-xxxx."

After a few days, My cache either gets approved and I get a e-mail with the permit number or I get a e-mail telling me why my cache was not approved(too close to historical artifact, etc).

I can wish right :)

QuartzCachers
03-04-2009, 12:32 PM
Is Elaine Sharp the MAIN person approving caches for the Ouachita district?
That is my understanding.

jclaudii
03-04-2010, 10:17 AM
Any more information or issues with Ouachita NFS from any of the members?
Any Success Stories?

It's been a while since we did a CITO for NFS (actually ours was the last one) perhaps we/someone should try and get one going in the Ouachita NFS area? I have not done as much running around in that area as I did in the Ozark side, but I bet someone knows a area that needs some clean up...I actually have a cache beside one area that could be a small half day cleanup!

astrodav
03-04-2010, 06:58 PM
I batter around the possibility of doing a major CITO event on the Million Dollar Road in west Yell County/east Scott County, in return for the privilege of setting about 25-40 Right-Of-Way caches along the road. Also, I hoped that we could then get together twice per year for a mini-CITO, as long as we were allowed to keep the caches in play.

I saw this as a win-win situation for both organizations involved. However. after a very short time & just a few conversations, I got the idea that the ONF wasn't even interested in something like this which would ultimately benefit THEM. Contrary, they seemed to imply that they thought a CITO would have no effect on garbage in the shoulders of the road.

I don't see their logic in that at all, because there ISN'T any. But I didnt really want to spend what I think would have been wasted time trying to work out a compromise situation with them. So I just completely abandoned the idea, deciding to place caches elsewhere, & leaving the trash along the road.

jclaudii
03-05-2010, 10:08 AM
pm me the district you worked with and who you talked to...the Ouachita NFS has been very Leary about caching mainly because they have no idea what it is. I still think it would be a good idea to get enough people here involved and have a "take a NFS person caching day" to show them what it is, how we hide, etc. One lady I talked to at the district level thought we were going to be mining something :)

We just really need a strong foot and patience with them while we educate their personnel on what caching is. After a few "free cito events" that may not benefit us right away, I think they'll see some light.