View Full Version : NFS staching rules??

08-19-2006, 01:51 PM
Where do I find national forest rules for stashing. I figure I will stick some over there soon. For that matter, anything else I should pay attention to at our first placement trips?

08-19-2006, 07:04 PM
Yesterday, I paid a visit to the Ozark NF office in Russellville, to find out about their new policy on geocaching. I had heard about it from Saddlebags, who has recently been through the process in order to place some new caches. Like mountainborn, I have several caches hidden in the national forests (both the Ozark and Ouachita), and I wanted some details. I was given a copy of the new policy and I also had them email me an electronic copy of it so that it would be easy to share with others. I'm not sure how to upload the file to the AGA website, and I contacted Gaddiel for some direction. I'm still working through how to do that, but in the meantime, if anyone wants an electronic copy, send me an email through my geocaching.com profile and I can send you one (specify Adobe or Word format).

Some things I learned:
(1) The new policy applies only to the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest. They said that the Ouachita NF was also working on a new policy, but they didn't know the status. The fellow at the Ozark office said he would contact the Ouachita office in Hot Springs and find out and let me know.
(2) Each national forest sets their own policy, rather than being dictated by Washington. That also means that a NF can decide not to have a policy.
(3) The subject of grandfathering existing caches was hinted at by me, but I did not receive a definitive response on whether permits would be required or not. I guess I should have been more forthright about it, but I was hoping a "don't ask, don't tell" policy would apply. :wink:
(4) The permit form needs to be filled out and signed and either dropped off or mailed to one of the Forest Service offices. It will then be sent to the district office where the cache is to be hidden and they are supposed to send someone out to check the proposed location to make sure it's OK before they approve it. I was told that it might take 7 to 10 days for an approval to go through. (This is REALLY slow, considering I have permits in 2 different state parks that I had received approval on within 15 minutes!) It sounds like if you send the permit request straight to the district office for the area you'll be hiding your cache, you'll probably speed things up a bit. That is, if you can figure out which district the site is in!
(5) The fellow I talked to at the Russellville office was very helpful about providing information (of course, it helps that I know him!) and said they were interested in supporting geocaching, because they recognize that it is a form of recreation, which is one of the purposes behind our national forests. They just want to know what's hidden out there and make sure that the caches aren't placed in dangerous, historical, or sensitive areas.
(6) I was told that the National Forest would soon be publicizing this new policy. How and when was not really made clear. (Again, I didn't ask too much about this since I planned on spreading the word through the AGA forums.)

The bottom line: the rules have changed but the Forest Service is willing to work with geocachers to let us use the national forest for our game.

I apologize for the length of this posting, but there was a lot of stuff I wanted to pass on to everyone. (I told the Forest Service guy I would!) I'll make a separate posting to provide everyone with the text of the new policy. -- ORR

08-19-2006, 07:18 PM
Here's the text of the new policy on geocaching in the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest:

:arrow: Approval of cache contents, design, and location must be granted prior to placement of any items on public lands.
:arrow: Participants of Geocaching must restrict their activities to areas that are open to the public. Caches are off limits on closed roads, unless traveling by foot.
:arrow: Caches will last for no more than one year. Reapplication and authorization must be done in order to keep caches on public lands.
:arrow: Access routes and caches will avoid fragile areas, such as rock shelters, caves, bogs, wetlands, steep slopes, National Registered Historic sites and structures, and other sensitive areas. Do not use areas closed to the public.
:arrow: At developed sites, adhere to all rules and regulations posted at sites.
:arrow: Traditional Cache sites are prohibited within wilderness areas. Only virtual caches will be allowed in wilderness areas.
:arrow: Caches will not be placed along side cliff edges or any location needing climbing equipment or any other safety equipment to be located.
:arrow: Caches will not interfere with or detract from other visitors’ experiences.
:arrow: Applicants will not dig soil or cut vegetation when developing a cache.
:arrow: Caches will be no more than 2 gallons or 12 inch x 12 inch x 12 inch in size.
:arrow: Caches will not contain any food, hazardous materials, alcohol, drugs, or other illegal items.
:arrow: Containers will be labeled on the outside so that it would not be mistaken as containing hazardous materials.
:arrow: Caches will be publicly accessible. There will be no “members only” or subscription caches.
:arrow: Geocachers are encouraged to follow “leave no trace” outdoor ethic techniques.
:arrow: If at any point Geocachers violate Forest Service Policy, the cache will be removed and the individual will be ticketed/fined appropriately.

Geocachers should only attempt hunting sites according to their experience level. Please carry a map and compass in case of poor satellite reception. GPS units compute distances in straight lines only. Differences in distance due to access as well as obstacles (cliffs, rivers, ponds, canyons) should be considered before attempting the cache location. Geocachers must plan ahead for their hunt by making sure they have adequate water, food, proper clothing, footwear, first aid kit and other items needed for travel in the forest. The use of ladders, ropes and other vertical equipment can be dangerous for you and future hunters. Caches should not be placed in areas needing any of this equipment to access. The USDA Forest Service does not take any responsibility for any injuries that may occur to an individual due to hazardous placement of a cache.

(The applicant has to sign and date the policy form at the bottom, to show that they "agree to uphold all policy and safety procedures stated above".

For those of you who have gotten state park permits, these requirements shoud look familiar. The form used to provide information about the cache contains the same sort of information required for a state park permit. (See the Download section of this website to view that form.)

Like I said in the previous posting, I'm working through how to get the policy and application form uploaded onto the AGA website, but in the meantime, if anyone wants an electronic copy, send me an email through my geocaching.com profile and I can send you one (specify Adobe or Word format). -- ORR

08-19-2006, 08:46 PM
"Access routes and caches will avoid fragile areas, such as rock shelters, caves, bogs, wetlands, steep slopes, National Registered Historic sites and structures, and other sensitive areas."
Well, that takes a lot of the fun out of it! :roll: So much for a place I had in mind. Thanks for the info, Oldie.

08-19-2006, 08:54 PM
Thanks for the information OldRiverRunner. I already knew some of the details you provided, but there were several new things that I hadn't heard about or was uncertain about. I will send you an email to request a copy of the policy.

Chuck Walla

08-20-2006, 06:09 PM
I can see right now that we have been having too much fun, and minor functionarys embeded in bureaucracy just couldn't stand it.
I expect this controlling agency will experience the same outcome as the Federal Communications commission did with Citizens Band Radio.
Lots of rules.
Lots of demands.
Little enforcement with the exception of high profile cases.
Is the USFS over staffed to the extent that they have surplus man power to actualy send out on geocaching expeditions to seize, identify and prosecute these horrible offenders ?
Why, of course not, the USFS is staffed thinly with many of it's members doing the work of and filling the shoes of many.
The fact that geocachers are wanting to generate more paperwork and details for them, is likely a thorn in their side !
Maybe there are geocachers that would really like to enforce the "new rules" for the USFS.
Maybe a geoSWAT team that could "self police" caches for the controlling agency.
The geoSWAT team could inspect caches for compliance and report to each district ranger, removing them as nesecary and issuing tickets to offenders.
They could have lots of patches on a colorful uniforn and have the weight of a government agency to prop up their self proclaimed authority.
Volunteers ?
Anyone ?
Requesting that regulation be placed upon the sport can be made to sound noble and even logical, you know, "for the sake of preserving the sport".
However it sure does take something away from the sport.
Does anyone wonder why there are those geocachers that find and trade items in geocaching, but never make a log book or a internet log entry.
Ever wonder why there are those that seem to cross over to the dark side and find and vandalize or steal caches ?
The bean counters among us will rellish more regulation.
They will be unhappy with this post.
I am ok with that.

08-20-2006, 07:42 PM
After reading mountainborn's post I went back and read what ORR posted. The part about taking from 7 to 10 days to approve a cache got me to thinking. mountainborn's profile shows he has 42 caches hidden, most of those are in in the Ouachita NF. If it takes 7 days to approve a cache it would take 294 days to get just his caches approved. If it took 10 days 420 days.
We need to get in line now. Where does the line start? :?:

08-20-2006, 07:59 PM
We need to get in line now. Where does the line start? :?: Ya can't get there from here! :lol:

08-20-2006, 08:49 PM
I think I have most of the information on the different districts laying around here. I know it's all at work. I'll see about putting something together with a list of phone numbers and different districts of the Ouachita National Forest.

08-21-2006, 05:46 PM
Here's the text of the new policy on geocaching in the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest:
:arrow: Caches will be publicly accessible. There will be no “members only” or subscription caches.
Has anyone bothered to explain to the State Parks Service…and the National Forest Service that one of two things is apparent here, either all caches are “members only caches,” or none are "members only"?

I’m a premium member so when logged in I can see the coords to “?” caches but my sister and brother and cousins and friends, etc. can also see them, but they are not premium members.

“Members only“ doesn’t actually mean members only, anymore then “micro” actually means microscopic, Even though I think GC should have dropped this type/style of cache, these caches are not exclusive to some special group nor banning any particular groups. Anyone can see them, they are open to the public but only if you are signed in and they don’t cost a dime so why would they ban “members only“ caches unless they have been misinformed or uninformed that “members only“ means nothing anymore or they are actually banning all caches because you Must be a signed-in-member to see the coords thus find the caches.
Now if the wording on this isn’t something the committee should be working on with these services I don’t know what would be.
I have other issues with the wording of this ruling but being only the voice of a small frog croaking in a big pond I have stripped the rest of this post and will email it directly to the 5 sitting committee members.

08-21-2006, 05:50 PM
I've just received a copy of the Ozark policy from Old River Runner and put it in my reference file for reviewing new caches. By the way, I published 3 new caches just last night that were hidden by Saddlebags and have Ozark NF permits.

Chuck Walla

08-23-2006, 09:34 AM

Well you please email me a copy of the NFS new policy that you sent to Chuck Walla?

I will see about getting it posted to the website forum for people to download.


08-23-2006, 06:29 PM

Well you please email me a copy of the NFS new policy that you sent to Chuck Walla?

I will see about getting it posted to the website forum for people to download.


Lady Engineer, Check your email. It should be there! -- ORR

P.S. If anyone else wants a copy, all you have to do is ask! Rather than posting your request here, I prefer that you send me an email from my profile on geocaching.com. I will get your request quicker, because I check my email account several times a day and this website maybe only once a day and, even then, I may not check this forum thread. Again, if you want a full copy, email me.

08-24-2006, 05:26 AM
Thanks ORR!

I have posted the Ozark National Forest permit application form (http://www.arkgeocaching.org/modules.php?name=Downloads&d_op=getit&lid=11) in the "Downloads" (http://www.arkgeocaching.org/modules.php?name=Downloads) section under "Forms". You can get it in either Microsoft Word format or Adobe PDF format.


08-24-2006, 07:51 AM
What's with the members only restriction? Why would the NF care whether a cache is members only? Sounds like the person who wrote the regulation is a geocacher who does not like members only caches. Very Strange!

08-24-2006, 08:01 AM
I certainly can't speak for the creators of the policy, but my guess is that they wanted to make sure that there were no restrictions on who could participate. If I'm a landowner that WANTS people to visit my land, I'd probably be thinking along these lines myself.

In addition, I'm sure some of the guidelines and "rules" of GC.com might be a little overwhelming for a newcomer. They might have just saw the phrase "members only" and thought, "We want EVERYONE to be able to enjoy this!" I can see that happening...


08-24-2006, 02:56 PM
Ok, I think I gotter' now.
I didn't realize that strict protocol was in order.
I moved by cut copy paste to the corrected thread as per your instructions.

Posted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 3:28 am Post subject:


LadyEngineer wrote:

This needs to be be posted on the thread titled NFS Staching Rules? started by Q. Please don't cross thread.

1 of the forum moderators.

OOpz !
Jest' aa' nothur' exampul' o' a rednek being hiz usually obnoxious, politicly incorrect self.
Aaaa, how I long for the good old days, when BLACK KNIGHT gave a little spontaneity, life and rebellion to this board, by giving a jibe at the politicly correct.
This is twice now that I have had to be corrected for being so uppity.
Earlier I made the mistake of thinking that this was a web site owned by arkgeocachers and was asking impertinent questions. You know, like about links to members pages.
I didn't know that it was privately owned and subject to owners rules.
I apologise for my rude behavior.

08-24-2006, 03:04 PM
I can't help but think, that such strict moderation might keep those new to the sport from posting freely on this forum.
They might think that each small infraction of protocol would be pointed out in this public forum.
Not all of us have the social or political skills to realize just when and where to place a comment.
My conclusion is that some observation that I have posted has struck a nerve somewhere.

08-24-2006, 08:35 PM
I most humbly apologize for my previous posting about none premium members being able to see the members only caches. I had no way of logging in as a none paying member so blanket emailed the afore mentioned cachers who I knew were not paying/premium members of GC.
They assured me that they could see them but I got an email from a cacher here in Arkansas saying they could not see them.

I’ve never used the phone-a-friend feature of caching before (except for posting the mouse hunt) so instead, I barrowed Sis’s ID and passcode (If you guys rat me out, and she stops thinking I‘m her bestest oldest brother…), went to GC and checked it out my self. You can not see them if you are not a paying member. They thought I was talking about the coords that you can only see if logged in.

This still doesn’t address the wording of the ruling as I see it because you Must be a member and be signed in to see Any caches at GC so all caches are members only. A ban on having to pay to see it would be more fitting and in line with what I hope they were trying to say/do.

Again, I most humbly apologize for this mis-info and I will take full credit for it…credit where credit is duo. Right? I think I have only found one premium member cache, and it was not one until after I found it.

I will try to make some amends for this by getting off this computer, pass on the next seven posting I would have made, (except for the hunt report) and even pay penance by dusting some. Promise. (well except for the dusting but you knew I was just joking about that)
B (for Backing waaay up)
P (for Packing up the keyboard)
N (for Not dusting yet but I’m working on it)
J (for Just hanging my head in shame)

08-25-2006, 09:15 AM
I didn't realize that strict protocol was in order.

I don't think "strict" would be the best descriptor of the moderation of these forum, as evidenced by some of the posts around here. However, there are (thankfully) some guidelines (http://www.arkgeocaching.org/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=3) in place.

Speaking as a moderator, I'd say that my hope is that posters be aware of these guidelines and try to follow them.

I didn't know that it was privately owned and subject to owners rules.

While it's true that the site is officially owned by LongDogs, he has donated it to ArkGeo. Really, the only "rules" here are the forum posting guidelines. These were not created by LongDogs, but rather by the ArkGeo Steering Committee.

08-29-2006, 08:28 PM
I already had about 10 caches planned to hide this fall in the Ozark National Forest but if it is going to be too much of a hassle with the new rules then I may just wait till after Christmas when I will have a little more time off.

08-30-2006, 05:43 AM
Working on the stats bar with LE's help

08-30-2006, 05:24 PM
Sorry about hijacking this thread. :oops:

08-30-2006, 05:31 PM
What a deal:
Looks like geocaching.com had really made the html string much longer on their stats bar page, for some programing need, no doubt.
This made the string longer than the number of characters that the message board allows in the signature line box.
Using your ( LadyEngineer ) html string as a model, I kinder' pared it down.
You know, made a Chevrolet outta' a caddillacccc ! 8O
I am still erasing my tracks as I exit.
Thanks, LE, for your help with this. :wink: