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 Myers Morton on September 6, 2017 at 6:16pm

Don't forget our experience with them.  The truth is not necessary.

Comment by Myers Morton on September 6, 2017 at 6:15pm

"...The park says Cash was asked to serve in the position temporarily because of his experience working in urban parks..."

Yea, right.  They hired Cash to be the superintendent of the Smoky Mountains because of his experience in urban parks. 

Comment by Jim Casada on September 6, 2017 at 5:09pm

Andrew--I wondered about that but were I a betting man I'd read things a bit differently. I have to wonder if there isn't some kind of behind the scenes NPS investigation in play here and the bigwigs decided it would be best to have Cash out of the limelight or maybe even close at hand to answer questions. The matter of what happens after four months isn't really addressed.

John, have you sent this to Kurt R.? He is a first-rate investigative journalist and knows the NPS culture far better than any of us. I would think it would be grist for his literary mill.

Jim Casada

Comment by Dustin M on September 6, 2017 at 5:09pm

I read that too Andrew, but his face in that article gives me some hope that there is something more permanent in the works or maybe this is a sort of performance intervention. 

Comment by Andrew Sisson on September 6, 2017 at 5:00pm

The article says it is  'to serve in a 120-day detail as acting superintendent of National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, D.C., starting on September 18'.  So he might come back.

Comment by John Quillen on September 6, 2017 at 4:29pm

My thinking exactly, Jim.  This isn't a lateral move.  With lawsuits coming down the pike, it makes one wonder.

Comment by Jim Casada on September 6, 2017 at 4:23pm

That's an interesting bit of news. Of course you always have to delve beneath the surface in things like this. It may well be that Cash requested the transfer, but it seems highly suspicious. The position is a huge step down from being superintendent of the country's most visited national park and a post which has to be one of the most coveted of all superintendent positions. About the only ones that would compare, at least in my view, would be Yosemite, Yellowstone, and maybe one or two others.

Jim Casada

Comment by John Quillen on September 6, 2017 at 4:18pm

Ca$h is gone in a Fla$h

Looks like Ca$h is getting his wings clipped a bit.  Fire related?  Perhaps they are moving him before the lawsuits hit.

Comment by Dustin M on September 4, 2017 at 7:29pm

Has anyone hiked up to Clingmans Dome for astrophotography pictures ?

Comment by John Quillen on September 2, 2017 at 7:30am

Gatlinburg and Sevier County do not agree with the NPS's self serving assessment of the "new normal" fire at Chimneys, however.

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