Thursday, November 10, 2005

State Letterboxing Rules

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is enforcing its rules on the placement of geocaches and letterboxes in state parks and recreation areas. The rules limit the number of boxes you may place in a park and you must have a permit, which is good for one year.

I just submitted a permit for one of my boxes and in the process came up with the "official" sticker below. Jim Gast, superintendent of the Rock Bridge Memorial State Park and the Katy Trail State Park, also answered a number of my questions.

The system seems to mix geocaches and letterboxes. For your purposes, are letterboxes caches?

Yes. The total number of caches/letterboxes allowed is the number of acres in the park divided by 200. For Jewell Cemetery, since it is so small, it is my decision to allow them or not. I have said there can be 1 there. Caches/Letterboxes are first come, first serve. At Rock Bridge, we can have 11. If there are 11 letterboxes, then we wouldn't have any geocaches.

Caches seemed to be limited to one per 200 acres or two per park, but then the permit allows for 5-box multicaches. Do you care if a multicache has a multiple clues on the Web or can it only have a single clue and other clues in the boxes? If the latter, does this mean one could have 10 boxes in Rock Bridge State Park if they were in two sets of clues?

Usually with multi-caches, only the first clue is posted on the web, the other clues are in the caches are direct people where to find the remaining ones. We have one multi-cache at Rock Bridge. Even though there are three boxes, it only counts as one cache/letterbox. So yes a person could have two multi-caches with 5 boxes each. I've seen some letterboxes with each clue posted on the web. It doesn't matter as long as the owner links them so we can be sure it's a multi-cache.

How will permits be renewed? It is the permittee's responsibility to ask for a renewal.

Permits are good for 1 year. If no one else wants to place a cache at Jewell Cemetery, I would probably consent to extending the permit another year.

Does the entire text attached to the permit need to be included in the box, or just a paraphrase. A large document is problematic for a microbox, which is by tradition the size of an Altoids can.

It needs to at least have OFFICIAL LETTERBOX or OFFICIAL GEOCACHE on the outside. Otherwise staff may think it is trash and remove it. The rest of the text is optional, but it would be nice if the text were somewhere to explain to non-user what they just found.

One of the more popular facets of letterboxing is the “hitchhiker.” This is a very small box (often a 35mm film container) that is placed within another letterbox. The finder takes the hitchhiker and places it in another letterbox. May I assume correctly that one does not need a permit to drop a “hitchhiker” into an existing box on state property?

Hitchhikers seem like travel bugs used in caches. You don't need a permit for the travel bug since you can add or remove items from a cache. The hitchhiker needs to fit inside the letterbox, however. A 35mm film can does not fit into an Altoid box and thus would not be allowed. Hitchhikers need to follow the rules for decency, etc.

Finally, when were the rules created, what was the public input process and are they subject to revision or amendment? Can I be placed on a mailing list for the latter? We talked with various geocaching clubs around the state to get their input.

If you have questions or comments about the policy, you can come to any park's public meeting and bring up issues, you can send your thoughts to me and I will forward them on, or you can send a comment from the web site.

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