Naturalist tells of area’s hidden treasures

More than 100 hidden treasures can be found in a 10-mile radius around Fort Dodge, but it might take a little work – and the right equipment – to locate them.

The treasures, known as caches, are best located with a GPS device and can be found in various locations throughout the area, Karen Hansen, a naturalist with Webster County Conservation, said during a Brown Bag Briefing program at the Fort Dodge Public Library Thursday afternoon.

Geocaching, the process of searching for the caches, is growing in popularity as more people are introduced to the activity, Hansen said. It can range in difficulty levels that vary by location of the caches and the surrounding terrain.

‘”It’s literally something anyone who is mobile can do,” said Hansen. “The only thing you really need is a GPS.”

To locate the caches, treasure seekers should first visit the website and enter the city or zip code they wish to search near. Coordinates for the cache locations can be downloaded to the GPS.

“That will lead you to the various caches,” said Hansen.

Caches can vary in size from large containers to micro caches which only contain a small, rolled-up piece of paper. Some caches contain a treasure that can be taken, and others, known as multi caches, contain the coordinates of the next cache leading to the treasure.

“If you take a cache, you should always put back something of equal or greater value,” said Hansen. “Caches have various levels of difficulty to find and levels of terrain to get to them.”

Some caches, such as one located near the Fort Museum, may provide a history lesson on the area as the treasure is sought.

“Sometimes you can find a lot out about the history of the area when you are looking,” said Hansen. “Historical areas are a great place to look for caches.”

To place a cache in a public place, permission may be needed.

“You may need to fill out paperwork to place a cache, Hansen said. “You just have to ask the right people.”

A geocaching event will be held Saturday at Brushy Creek Recreation Area beginning at 9 a.m. Treasure seekers will look for caches while picking up trash throughout the park. GPS units will be available for use for those who do not have their own.

For those interested in trying geocaching, a “park pack” can be checked out from Webster County Conservation that includes GPS units.