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Georgia Geocachers Association - Georgia Caching Guidelines

Geocaching.com has several guidelines and requirements in place regarding hiding caches and creating cache pages. There are some Georgia specific guidelines that pertain to hiding caches as well. We have tried to create a list of some of the things you should and should not do when creating a new cache in Georgia.

DO ask for permission to place a cache.

One of the main things you should do is ask for permission to place any traditional physical cache. You should contact landowners, city or county governments and state or national park offices. Some areas already allow caches.

Who does allow caches at this time?

This list does not cover all areas by any means, but Cobb County and Gwinnett County in Metro Atlanta have been contacted and allow caches. Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation (GCPR) welcomes geocaching within several of its park sites. In order to better handle the request and provide the stewardship of the park lands, GCPR has developed a new policy and procedures practice for all geocaches placed within a park. This procedure can be found here.

We hope other county and local city governments will allow caches in the future. For example, local cachers have contacted the city of Roswell and the city of Powder Springs and received permission to place their caches. Let us know if you have success and we will add them to this list.

The GGA has worked with the Georgia State Parks and Recreation Department regarding a policy recognizing Geocaching as an approved activity within Georgia State Parks. We have been given a policy which states that you must ask for permission from the individual Park Supervisor and approval of the cache is at the Supervisor's discretion. If a cache is placed in a GA State Park without permission it will be archived and you will have to remove it from the park. Several caches have been placed in GA State Parks based on the new guidelines!

The Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve, or the Elachee Nature Center, only allows 7 Geocaches in the park. All caches must be approved by the Preserve Manager. This preserve is near Gainesville, GA. There is more detailed information regarding that park here in our GGA Forums. Currently the park has 7 caches and is closed to new caches.

Contact the GGA for more information about GA State Parks and Elachee.

The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is geocaching friendly and have a set of guidelines for us to follow.

The US Army Corps of Engineers, South Atlantic Division, has determined that geocaching is an appropriate and compatiable recreational use of Corps of Engineers regulated property.

Geocaches may be allowed on government property in accordance with all state and local, as well as Code of Federal Regulations Title 36 (CFR 36) Rules and Regulations, as long as the activity is being conducted in a non-obtrusive method. Caches may be located in areas that do not present safety or security concerns or otherwise posted as restricted or off limits to the general public.

Geocaching activities will not be allowed to occur:
a) In any ecologically or environmentally sensitive area or if the cache negatively affects the area around it in any way (i.e. designated wilderness areas, areas with threatened or endangered species, nesting or breeding grounds, or any other fragile area).
b) If it disrupts the landscape in any way. Specifically, no digging or disruption of the earth will be permitted.
c) In archeologically sensitive areas or if it causes a disruption to any established cultural resource site.
d) In areas allocated as prohibited by the project master plan.
e) If it is placed in any area that poses a safety or security risk.
f) In any area restricted for public use such as areas actively managed for timber harvest, wildlife management or controlled burning.
g) If the cache placed on government property contains inappropriate articles including but not limited to alcohol, tobacco products, or any illicit material.
h) If any other situation or circumstances is determined to be inappropriate by the Operations Manager.

If it is determined that a cache must be removed from goverment property, for whatever reason, there will be a reasonable effort made to contact the cache owner. If there is no compliance within a reasonable amount of time after notification, then the cache should be removed from public land, and impounded as abandoned property unless the appropriate authorization has been obtained by the cache owner.

The US Army Corps of Engineers reserves all rights to monitor the use to assess public health and safety and environmental protection issues to assure the geocaching activity/sport does not become too large and begin to conflict with other authorized use. Appropriate steps shall be taken to properly manage the geocaching activity.

The Project Manager may allow geocaching activities unless it is determined the activity will have a negative affect on project lands, waters or facilities. If the activity violates state, local or CFR 36 rules and regulations or poses environmental, facility maintenance, safety or security dangers, the activity may be denied.

The USDA Forest Service has given us guidelines for cache placement in GA National Forests.

1. Caches must be at least 1/2 mile apart.
2. Caches need to be for public view. No members only or subscription caches are allowed.
3. Geocache containers must not be placed in Wilderness Areas, research Natural Areas, Chattooga Wild and Scenic Corridor, Hitachi Experimental Forest, Appalachian National Scenic Trail Corridor, Rare Communities, Developed Recreation Areas and Cultural/Heritage Areas. You may use virtual targets in these areas as part of a multicache, but the container cannot be hidden in these areas.
4. Caches must be placed following relevant Leave No Trace Principles.
5. Do not dig soil or cut vegetation to establish cache hiding spot.
6. Caches must not contain food, hazardous materials, illegal substances or weapons.
7. Containers must be no smaller than a pint and no larger than 50 cal. ammo box container
8. Containers must be labeled on the outside and clearly marker as Geocache with GC number and contact email as not to be mistaken as containing hazardous substances.
9. Special Use Permits are required for Recreational Events (like our GGA Challenge Event, etc.).
10. Provide updated list of existing caches every month, provide latitude, longitude and map of location and point of contact for Forest Service.
11. Failure to remove caches within 30 days of notice from the Forest Service may result in a non-renewal of permit.
12. Permittee will accept independent geocache proposals on a gratis basis unless it violates conditions of the permit.
13. Locations of caches are not considered exclusive nor reserved.

Who does NOT allow caches at this time?

The National Park Service (NPS) as a rule does not allow traditional physical caches. If you ask for permission from a specific park superintendent you may be given permission.



As stated above, geocaches are not allowed in certain areas in the USDA Forest Service National Forest.

Other things to remember

Never bury a cache container. We recommend using ammo containers for caches in the mountains since they seal well and are very durable. Raccoons are extremely curious creatures and bears will eat just about anything to get to food (yes, even an ammo box)! Don't put food in any type of cache.

Roads and Railroad Right-of-Ways!!!

NEVER place a cache within 150 feet of any railroad line. A cacher has been jailed, went to court and was fined for placing a cache near an active railroad tunnel. His cache was destroyed by the local bomb squad. With our heightened sense of security after the 9-11 tragedy, areas where terrorist may strike should always be avoided. Never place a cache in a roadway right-of-way such as inside of cloverleaf off ramps, etc. You must be able to legally park to hunt for any cache.

Some other placement considerations

You should not place physical caches near dams, airports or other areas that would be considered sensitive targets for terrorist activities. Bomb squads have been called out to destroy caches in several areas in the US. The cacher that places the cache is responsible for the cache placement. Keep that in mind as you research an area for a cache. Again, never bury a cache container. A buffer of 0.10 miles (528 feet) is in place for cache approval. Virtual caches are no longer listed on the site. Consider making your virtual target a part of a multi-cache with a traditional container at the end of the hunt.

Placing caches while traveling

You cannot place traditional physical caches while on vacation or business unless you have contacted a cacher in the area and have an agreement with them that they will look after your cache for you. If you have a problem with the cache then you have no way to check it in a timely manner and it will probably be archived if there are issues.

What you do and do not want to put in the caches

Geocaching is meant to be a fun friendly family sport. Only put things in caches that you would want a child to find. Kids do beat their parents to the cache now and then! Do not put any food in caches since it attracts animals. Do not put any knives, matches, lighters or other dangerous items of this nature in a cache. Water bottles are a bad idea in the winter since they freeze and rupture.

Cache Types:

Traditional caches -- Plastic containers, ammo boxes, etc.
Multi-Cache -- Several stages to the final location.
Letterbox Hybrid -- Cache with a stamp, see letterboxing.org
Unknown, Mystery or Puzzle Cache -- You'll find out when you get there!!!
Earthcaches -- geology and earthscience related locations, must have educational information.
Event Cache -- Geocachers meeting to discuss Geocaching.

Recent changes in the guidelines at geocaching.com have eliminated the options for Virtual Caches and Webcam Caches. These have been moved to the new part of the Groundspeak family of sites called Waymarking. You can find the new waymarking site at www.waymarking.com

Where can I learn more about Geocaching?

In addition to the resources on the GGA Online site, there is a wealth of geocaching information on the internet. The main geocaching site is geocaching.com. Links to other good sites are available from the GGA Links Page. But, perhaps the best way to learn more about geocaching to talk with a geocacher. Stop by our next meeting and talk to some of the more experienced cachers.