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Thread: Ouachita National Forest Geocaching Policy

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Ridgway, CO
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    465
    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?

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    cabot,AR
    Posts
    147
    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.

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    280

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Russellville
    Posts
    913
    Quote Originally Posted by SJClimber
    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!

    Quote Originally Posted by SJClimber
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by OEnavigator
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by OEnavigator
    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
    "Wildness is a necessity." -- John Muir

    "When you go to hide a geocache, think of the reason you are bringing people to that spot. If the only reason is for the geocache, then find a better spot." briansnat

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Russellville
    Posts
    913
    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
    "Wildness is a necessity." -- John Muir

    "When you go to hide a geocache, think of the reason you are bringing people to that spot. If the only reason is for the geocache, then find a better spot." briansnat

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Jessieville,AR
    Posts
    321
    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!
    Guess what?! I got a fever, and the only prescription...is more cowbell!!

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    280

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Russellville
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    913
    Quote Originally Posted by OEnavigator
    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!

    Quote Originally Posted by OEnavigator
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by OEnavigator
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by OEnavigator
    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
    "Wildness is a necessity." -- John Muir

    "When you go to hide a geocache, think of the reason you are bringing people to that spot. If the only reason is for the geocache, then find a better spot." briansnat

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Ridgway, CO
    Posts
    465
    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.

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    169
    Chuck Walla has gathered some additional information from other Geocaching.com reviewers:

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Walla
    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.

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