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 John Quillen on March 9, 2018 at 12:24pm

I love how he took our language verbatim about the park being donated and created by the pennies of schoolchildren and the Rockefellers. Which tells me he knew better than to pick an entrance fee fight. In his mind I suppose that justifies drilling for oil and gas on public lands. So who says what we have done doesn't matter? Thanks for sharing Dustin. 

Comment by Dustin M on March 8, 2018 at 10:33am
Comment by John Quillen on March 6, 2018 at 7:33am

Yes, Jim. They hung us out to dry. We SFWers have a good friend that is on the ATC and he told me that every time he brought it up, the bigwigs would shudder and change the subject.  Apparently the AT is technically part of the NPS, a fact I didn't know until then.

Comment by Jim Casada on March 5, 2018 at 7:12pm

John--If I remember correctly, the ATC folks pretty well blew us (and our struggle) off, feeling they were going to get special treatment and as long as that happened all was well. 

My Grandpa Joe had an ideal expression for such situations, and it was one he used often. "They'll learn," he's say, "they'll learn."

Jim Casada

Comment by Dustin M on March 5, 2018 at 5:50pm

Divided we lose 

Comment by John Quillen on March 5, 2018 at 4:14pm

Yep, Dustin.  Pay to walk on lands donated by our ancestors.  The irony is that Lamar acknowledged this condition right after saying the Smokies needs an entrance fee. The ATC was no help to us in the fee fight and we reached out to them in multiple ways. So that bird is coming home to roost with them.

Comment by Dustin M on March 5, 2018 at 8:59am

Hiking toll trails 

Comment by John Quillen on March 5, 2018 at 8:58am

Looks like they are wanting to limit the number of AT thru hikers.

Comment by John Quillen on March 4, 2018 at 6:58pm

WBIR just put out a teaser that changes are coming to backcountry camping in the Smokies and they are airing a story about it tonight.  Any speculation on what those changes will be, cough cough?

Comment by John Quillen on February 25, 2018 at 7:53am

Lamar Alexander says the Smokies needs an entrance fee.

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