Hey 9key! First of all, welcome to our site. It is an honor to have you on here.
The situation with the National Forest is this: you must have a permit for a cache placement, and these permits are supposed to cost $57.00 a year, per cache. They will waive that fee if you meet their requirements and submit each cache through the process. These permits are only good for one year, at which time the cache must be removed. That is the biggest problem for me personally. I would have no problem redoing a permit or twenty every year, if I didn't have to go out and rehide them over every year.
Now, with all that being said, I and several others have placed caches in the Forest, and gotten the required permit (with the fee waived of course). I have several that are past the date of removal and no one has said anything. I know that my permit is no longer valid, but I don't want to go over there and pull them and try to get new permission for new caches in those areas. As it currently stands, the FS (at least the local offices) don't have the time or desire to go out and chase down the "illegal" caches, even though the main office in Hot Springs really wants them to. There is a person there who is a real witch and for whatever reason does not like geocaching. I have several inside contacts at the FS, as I used to be a volunteer for them. I have been told that as long as she is in place, there will be no real geocaching on the Ouachita National Forest.
The permits all must go through her, and they take months to get. The only reason we are able to get them at all, is due to a lot of hard work by some members of this organization. I think in the end, we were able to go over the head of the Hot Springs office, and get some help. I think it was Senator Mark Pryor if I recall correctly.
The bottom line in a nutshell is that yes, you can place caches in the ONF, but they make it so problematic that it just isn't worth it.
Thank you for your interest on this subject. Any ideas you have would be appreciated.
Guess what?! I got a fever, and the only prescription...is more cowbell!!