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 June 18, 2018 at 5:00pm

Glad you like them, Jo. I think it is safe to say we have known each other for years, just not in person! 

Comment by Jo Jackson - Neuspickel on June 18, 2018 at 4:08pm

John your videos were great! Now I can say I almost know someone that has climbed Everest!! 

Comment by John Quillen on June 18, 2018 at 3:35pm

Thanks Erik, Jim and Jo. 

It was definitely what my friend Martin calls a "Trip of a Lifetime". So many things happened over there I am still synthesizing the experience. But I was blessed to stand atop Everest for a near record amount of time, alone. One of the most special parts was descending from the summit knowing no one was behind me (because I was so slow) and I was the highest human on earth for so long. WBIR is doing a piece on it that was originally slated to run tonight but got bumped to tomorrow. If anyone is interested, I have posted videos of the climb at this link. ( I recommend checking out the summit video and the ladder crossing one, in particular). Ironically, I had to pay $11,000 for a permit to ascend this mountain.

Comment by Jo Jackson - Neuspickel on June 18, 2018 at 8:48am

Congrats John!!

Comment by Jim Casada on June 17, 2018 at 6:28am

John--Hearty congratulations. That's a grand feat and one made even more special by the help you gave to another. Talk about a bucket list item, this one is the lace on the bride's pajamas.

Jim Casada

Comment by Erik Gerhardt on June 16, 2018 at 1:12am
Comment by Dustin M on May 2, 2018 at 4:36pm
Comment by Dustin M on April 5, 2018 at 2:35pm


Comment by Rob Cameron on April 5, 2018 at 1:54pm
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. 

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