Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Caches of Madison County

Here's information about geocaching in Pammel Park in Madison County. (And for those of my readers who live outside Iowa, yes, it's THAT Madison County.) My thanks to Barheet for giving me permission to publish his email here.

Date: Mon, 5 May 2008
To: IowaAdmin
Subject: Barheet contacting IowaAdmin from

Hey there. I recently submitted 3 caches for approval in Pammel Park, near Winterset. I wasn't aware that I needed the director's approval before placing caches there. I contacted the local director who said not to place anything there. Here are the reasons he gave me:

1. They don't know what people would place inside the caches and don't want any inappropriate items in the parks.

2. They want to place their own caches for educational purposes.

He said they wanted to be able to control what was in the caches. I'm not sure how they'd do that, unless they made it just a local scavenger hunt or something. He also says Pammel is not a state park anymore and is managed by the county.

Anyway, just thought I'd let you know what happened for future reference. I will remove the caches and archive the listings. Thanks!



Tom said...

So, #1 is the "official" reason, and #2 is the real reason. I made the observation in an IGO newsletter last year that the smaller the park, the more rules-bound the ranger/director. IMHO, that's why they were given the smaller park. When I deal with a large group like the Corps of Engineers, it's smooth all the way.

At any rate, if your goal is to get approval, contact the park naturalist. These people tend to have better people skills, since they function as teachers oftentimes, and many times with younger people. Every naturalist I've dealt with has been a pleasure to work with. It may be that you can enlist the help of this person. Additionally, if education is the true goal, why not partner up for a Geo 101, and in a way that gives prominence to the park director as a major sponsor of the activity. These guys (I'd say ladies, but have never had a bad experience with one - must be the BGT charm! LOL!) want publicity, too, and seem to be conscious of their peers opinions in my experience. I always say if you can't get in the front door, try the side door, and partnering might be all it takes. Good luck!

Nathan said...

This whole situation is really too bad. Unless the Madison County Conservation board comes up with an internet-based geocaching program, I can't see their program being anything other than a local scavenger hunt. I told the director that geocaching would bring only positive things to the park including trash pickup and....more visitors! Since they are wanting to completely control the contents of each "cache," I don't see how it can be internet-based at all, much less be posted on

Mostly, I'm disappointed that geocachers across Iowa won't visit the park to find some caches, then stay just because it's a great park!

Hopefully, the closed-minded director will either open his eyes to the positive aspects of geocaching or come up with a great program on his own to draw people to the park.


juliecache said...

It is really too bad. I think a lot of government workers have the same thoughts. I've discovered that they want people to visit geocaches on their sites, but refuse to put their time into placing and owning them. Even with the fun factor that placing and owning involves, the gals at Neal Smith NWR feel that _I_ should volunteer my time to place an earthcache at their refuge, living 50 miles away, even though _they_ are there every day. They refuse to volunteer their time; they think they ought to be on the clock.

I have had good luck with naturalists who are out with people all the time in my county. that is how I know whether a naturalist just has a j-o-b or is living a vocation or calling.