BACKCOUNTRY TAX FEEASCO the unedited and uncensored edition

Our original Backcountry Tax blog on the gosmokies site was moderated by some folks who held an opinion in favor of backcountry fees.  As a result the blog operator, Jigsha Desai made several threats to shut us down but we remained in operation because it was the most popular blog post in the history of that site.  We decided to take our conversation to a place where our message wouldn't be suppressed.  This blog is the result.

Therefore, it is our collective opinion that the Backcountry Fee Proposal put out By Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson and backcountry specialist Melissa Cobern is an egregious reach into the pockets of taxpaying citizens. 

A prominent study proves that access fees restrict use of National Park and forest lands.

The primary justification of the backcountry fee proposal made by park administration is campsite overcrowding which was proven false.  Click here for details and statistics to prove this fallacy for exactly what it is.  A federal fee grab.

Park management cozies up to the horse lobby but proposes a tax on  backpackers who are the best citizens of the Great Smoky Mountains.  In fact, Ditmanson recently signed off on a new horse concession smack dab in the middle of Cades Cove. is touted as a solution for reservation problems in the backcountry office but this Canadian based company is frought with problems.  72 hour reservations are required for the empty Smokies campsites you will be paying for the privilege of using.  Forget spontaneous weekend outings with the family.  Better pull out the wallet, you are going to pay just to talk to them.

This is not about money for any of us.  We love the Smokies and actually get out there and know the lies being spread by the Sugarlands swashbucklers.  It is a matter of deciding what type of National Park you want.  Should boy scout groups and single mothers and twenty somethings be discouraged from nature because of trumped up justifications for more rangers?  We think not.  Help us stop this double taxation now.  One fee will result in another.  We must make a stand.

(picture courtesy Kittzy Benzar, Western Slope No fee coalition)

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Comment by Jim Casada on August 4, 2017 at 2:46pm

Some footage of the censor in action that included audio of the guy explaining they didn't what "their kind" around could be truly damning. Did the TV station run any of this other than the live stream version. 

Any time there are efforts of this sort to stifle raised voices my suspicions go up immediately.

Jim Casada

Comment by Dustin M on August 3, 2017 at 3:00pm

Comment by Dustin M on August 3, 2017 at 2:55pm
Comment by Dustin M on August 3, 2017 at 2:29pm

I will see if I can find out who it was and point them to this forum so that they can tell you first hand. 

Comment by Mike Thorpe on August 3, 2017 at 2:28pm

Thanks for the info Dustin, I find it rather interesting that a local business would not seek to accommodate if not help folks that suffered such loss on any level in their community....

Comment by Dustin M on August 3, 2017 at 2:25pm

They must have deleted the post because I cannot find it now. It was getting heated and the admins delete stuff from time to time. 

Comment by Dustin M on August 3, 2017 at 2:20pm

They were told to leave the property or they would call the police.  One of them is a member of 'Sevierville Speaks Out' Facebook Group and was talking about it.

Comment by Mike Thorpe on August 3, 2017 at 2:18pm

Howdy Guys (and Gals),

I am in Gatlinburg at the moment and have been here since Monday evening. I noticed on the local news that a group that is comprised of "victims of the Gatlinburg Fire" were meeting at a local Hotel, Marriot I believe? They we there to discuss some of the hi-jinx associated with the fire such as the "lost recordings" and were asked to leave the hotel once it was discovered that they were not affiliated with any govt. agency. Has anyone else heard anything about this or got any insights??? Sounds a bit fishy to me???

Comment by John Quillen on August 2, 2017 at 9:16am


I resisted the temptation to reply to all in that email to volunteers and say something about Ca$h's "closed door policy". I'm guessing that with the wildfire heat, they may be feeling some steam. I was informed a few weeks ago that people were told to "stay put" in phone calls to Gatlinburg officials during the fire. Would explain why the tapes mysteriously go missing.

Comment by Jim Casada on August 1, 2017 at 4:50pm

Interesting, and obviously not what one would describe as an "open door" policy. John, if they've got a motel room type peep hole, you may well darken the doors of headquarters but never again cross the threshold:).

Jim Casada

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