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 20, 2017 at 8:27pm

Undercover Rangers?  Did you have our Southern Forest Watch Owl on your bumper?

Comment by John Quillen on September 18, 2017 at 11:07pm

As a victim of two incidents of serious car vandalism/clouting in the Smokies, I was quite surprised with this piece of reporting by WBIR on the subject. Dana posted a blog over at the other site, and this was my response.
Ten years ago, as Dana notes, was the last big clouting event and I was involved as one of our cars was severely vandalized and burglarized. They busted about seven cars along the motorway. When I met with park officials to inquire about their interdiction methods, I was told that it was "being addressed". When I asked if they had considered cameras at Alum Cave and, in our instance, Huskey Gap, was told, "We have undercover officers watching." This was the second time I had a vehicle severely vandalized in the same area. So I ask the same question, how many more must occur in that area before our tax dollars are put to use here? They say park communications are critical. Yet the NPS can use game cameras to find bears in backcountry campsites. They are readily available commercially for almost nothing these days.
There is an underlying reason this issue is being covered by WBIR who traditionally never touches negative press related to the Smokies. I expect to soon hear about some associated monetary need as a result now that Clay is running the show and Cash is gone.

Comment by John Quillen on September 13, 2017 at 8:13am
Comment by John Quillen on September 8, 2017 at 7:26am

Kurt puts things more bluntly here.

I don't see any mention of Cash's reassignment on WBIR or Knox News Sentinel.  Shocking

Comment by Dustin M on September 6, 2017 at 11:59pm

Thanks Gregg, nice to see you back on the board. 

Hope everything is well with you also

Comment by Gregg Bostick on September 6, 2017 at 11:31pm

It has been a while since I have posted, but this news compels me to do so.  With the reassignment of Cash and the appointment of Jordan as the acting superintendent of the GSMNP, it only confirms what we all know.  They take care of their own, cover their backsides, and reward incompetence. 

When the onion is peeled back in twenty years and all of the layers are exposed, Jordan's finger prints will be all over the debacle that occurred with the wildfires. 

The NPS handles press releases the same way they handle the populace, Jim.  With zero regard to the truth!

Enough of my rantings.  Hope everyone is well and able to enjoy what little free backcountry camping is left.

Comment by Myers Morton on September 6, 2017 at 9:59pm

Jim, I suggest we know full well how the NPS handles press releases.

I expect in this case of firing Cash, there was not enough facts to manipulate; therefore, they said nothing.


Comment by Jim Casada on September 6, 2017 at 7:52pm

John--I have no idea of how the NPS handles press releases, but in the outdoor industry such things are basically automatic (even with things like product recalls). This one has a bit of an aroma to it but if they intentionally left Kurt out it's sheer foolishness. He has too many sources for something like that to sneak by.

Jim Casada

Comment by John Quillen on September 6, 2017 at 7:50pm

Quick turnaround from Kurt. The NPS hadn't even sent him a press release on that one. I will characterize his sentiment as one of "surprise" and think it fair to say he sees it as an "interesting" development.

Comment by John Quillen on September 6, 2017 at 7:22pm

I just sent Kurt a note, Jim.  Great idea.  If nothing else, he may convey some intuition.

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