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Thread: Getting Approval for Caches In the Ozark National Forest

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
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    Ozark, MO
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    Getting Approval for Caches In the Ozark National Forest

    I was just wondering if anybody could give me a feel for how difficult and lengthy a process it is to have caches approved by the National Forest Service in the Ozark National Forest. I have been working with the Mark Twain National Forest Rangers up here in Missouri for almost 3 months in getting two caches approved. They keep telling me that everything looks good, but that the "specialist" needs to review them before I get the final go ahead to publish them. For about two months they keep telling me to check back "next week". I feel like I'm getting the run around.

    Does anybody have any experiences working with the folks at the Ozark National Forest? How easy are they to work with and get caches approved? I have read the requirements and have a copy of the permit application, and it seems pretty quick and straight forward. I am hoping to publish some nice long hiking caches in the northern part of the state. I absolutely love that part of the state, especially around the Pedestal Rocks/Kings Bluff area.

    Any thoughts?

    Semipaw

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Clarksville, AR
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    271
    I have several in the Ozark National Forest north of Clarksville, I filled out the form, took it to the office on hwy 21 north of Clarksville, and in a matter of about 20 mins, the ranger signed them made copies for me with the registration numbers on them and gave them back to me, acted excited about the fact that we were getting approval first and that more people would be getting out in the forest...at least that is the experience I have had.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Ozark, MO
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    13
    Thanks. That sounds like a much more enjoyable experience than the one I am currently experiencing with the Mark Twain National Forest caches I am trying to get approved. I wonder if one could mail the permit application to the National Forest Office north of Clarksville instead of hand delivering it? That's a bit of a drive for me.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Russellville
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    914
    Quote Originally Posted by Semipaw View Post
    I wonder if one could mail the permit application to the National Forest Office north of Clarksville instead of hand delivering it? That's a bit of a drive for me.
    The permits must be approved by the district office in which the cache is hidden. Depending upon where you hide your caches, the Clarksville office may or may not be the right district office to handle your application. There is also a district office in Hector, which is closer to the Pedestal Rocks area and may be the proper district office to contact. I am sure you can just mail the application to them, but you give the office a call first to confirm this, as well as ensuring that you have the right district office for your application.
    "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. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Russellville
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    Which district are you trying to hid them...they have had several changes on who the head ranger is but I bet I can give them a call and see if I can figure out whats up.


    Crow Mountain Crafts FB Page

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Ozark, MO
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    13
    Well, after a long phone conversation with one of the District Rangers in the Big Piney office in Jasper, it appears the Ozark Forest takes just about as long to approve caches as Mark Twain. The guy was real nice and helpful, but said it usually takes 6-8 weeks to have a cache approved. He said that an archeologist, a ranger, and a wildlife biologist all had to review the cache and sign off. He also said that they had to go out and physically inspect the cache site prior to issuing a permit. I hope whoever treks out to the one I placed along Stepp Creek is ready for a strenuous two mile bushwack.

    I understand the need for permits and such, but sometimes I get real frustrated with the National Forest offices. Mark Twain finally approved my two caches after a three month wait, but not until I basically harassed them to death. It would probably be easier to get a permit to harvest timber or camp for a week out in the forest, both activities that affect the environment more than geocaching. I wish they were more like the Corps of Engineers. They're much easier to work with, and approve caches much quicker.

    I wish I could find the ranger that approves caches in 20 mins as cfd29 stated in a previous response to my post.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Russellville
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    603
    I think that infomation is a bit wrong, or at least that district is doing way more work than there is "funding" for. They I have had it explained to me by the head District Ranger and the Natural Resource Manager. They simply don't have time or funding to physically go around looking at all the geocaches people placed or want to place in the NFS. They have told me they usually speak to someone who is familiar with the area and ask about potential sensitive areas, or other issues. The usually use their own topo maps and take a glance at it that way. The purpose of the 1 year permit is if it has been found a lot, a ranger can review it and not renew it based on geo-trail formation, or littering aroudn the site, or something (this has never happend that I know of). It has been our experience that caches hid in the NFS recieve very little traffic compared to "normal" caches that are placed in city parks or just off the road on "right of ways".

    I have explaied the geocaching bug to the rangers and told them that the odds of a cache getting abandoned, destroyed, or excessive litter in or around the cache are very rare. The caching community will adopt or retrieve a archived cache, will CITO a cache site, and will report any unusual activity or detriments to the local environment on the cache page. WE basically "self police" our hobby is how I put it. When we have people who will travel over a hundred miles just to try to be the First to find a geocache, we have a pretty dedicated group of folks to help out when rangers need some help.

    I have some ideas that I am forming and will eventually start a thread on it here on the forums (sounds like I need to do it sooner to get some much needed help on it and to help others). I have some ideas I have talked over with the Russellville District and Ouachita is even checking in for permissions on being able to make a plugin for their website to "automate" the process so it goes to the correct ranger and district for approval.


    Crow Mountain Crafts FB Page

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Ozark, MO
    Posts
    13
    Ah, I just want to scream. So it's been six weeks since I've submitted a cache to the Jasper Office of the Big Piney Ranger District. I called them up this morning to check on the status of that permit application. The Ranger I talked to (the same one I spoke with last time I called) said that honestly he hadn't even had time to look at it, that it was buried under a stack of paper in his office. He said he'd try to get the process rolling sometime this week. If I hadn't called him, I doubt it would have ever been looked at.

    This is so frustrating. I would love to hide lots of caches all over the Ozark National Forest, but I doubt I'll ever try to hide a cache on National Forest Land again. Maybe that is what they want. Maybe they just want to make the process so long and frustrating that nobody will ever try to hide caches there. Mark Twain up in Missouri is no better, either. Arghhh!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Clarksville, AR
    Posts
    271
    Dang, I guess I am just lucky, the ranger here just signs them when you bring them in, takes about 15 mins, funny how they can be so different for the same thing

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Ozark, MO
    Posts
    13
    Well, after a 4 month ordeal, I finally got approval for this ONE cache from the National Forest Service. It took multiple emails and phone calls every three weeks or so checking on the status of the permit request. If I hadn't been so persistent, I doubt this one would have ever been approved. Does anybody have any suggestions on how to avoid this long delay/frustration in the future? I would love to place lots of adventurous hiking caches in the Ozark National Forest, but I'm not sure I want to put so much nagging and effort just to get a permit approved. Are there easier districts to work with? I'd be willing to drive a little further to place and maintain a cache just to avoid this long delay in the approval process.

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