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 Mark Cooke on August 15, 2019 at 12:04pm

The deadline for the NEPA comments is August 26th, not the advertised date of 8/12 in the Outside magazine. Even though many, including myself are skeptical about the Federal Govt listening to folks like us, we still have to continue to speak out. 

It says on their page ( in the upper left hand corner "Your voice in Federal decision-making". So, I encourage you to take 5 minutes and let them know you are against them taking away our Public Opinion when the Forest Service wants to do whatever just to expedite their desires. There have been 27,466 comments thus far so please add yours to the comments. If a comment looks like it was from a mass mailing (cookie-cutter type) they throw it out and don't count it. Tell them straight up in your own words.

Comment by John Quillen on August 13, 2019 at 5:36pm

I haven't heard a response from the director of Radnor Lake regarding the jogging restriction. So I contacted his boss this morning. I did receive a response from the director of the Radnor Lake "Friends" Group. Here is what she said. (For the record, Frozen Head is also a Class 2 area)

Hello, Mr. Quillen.
Thank you for your email.  In the early 1970's the State passed the Natural Areas Preservation Act to protect land, water, native plants and wildlife in Tennessee. Radnor Lake is a Class II Natural Area and State protected land.  This classification limits use of the natural areas, which is everything other than Otter Creek Road, to walking and observing.   
There was no specific incident. These have always been the rules we follow.
Please let me know if you have any other questions.  I am glad you are drawn to Radnor!


Tina Corkum
Director, Friends of Radnor Lake
Comment by John Quillen on August 11, 2019 at 6:15pm

Thanks for commenting Mark. Not that our comments matter to these kings in the first place. That may be the best reason for doing away with them. If they were just honest and said so, I would probably commend them. These comments, we learned, are just that. Nothing is incorporated as a result. But someone can FOIA all those and stick it in their face.

Comment by Mark Cooke on August 11, 2019 at 2:11pm

Just commented on the NEPA proposed changes that would eliminate public input and increase categorical exclusions so that the "Almighty Dollar" can be obtained without regard to OUR public lands. At the time I dropped my comment there were over 18,000 sent. Thanks to Dustin for bringing this to our attention, and all those on this site that took the time to voice an opinion. 

Comment by John Quillen on August 7, 2019 at 4:28pm

just commented and I hope everyone here will as well.

Comment by John Quillen on August 7, 2019 at 4:26pm

You have got to  be kidding me, Dustin. 

The Trump administration is quietly trying to strip public input from the decision-making process used by the U.S. Forest Service. 

I'm signing that for certain, not that the FS incorporates comments anyway.

Comment by Dustin M on August 7, 2019 at 4:09pm
Comment by Dustin M on August 7, 2019 at 4:06pm
Comment by John Quillen on August 4, 2019 at 10:04pm

Thanks Dustin, I love knowing this stuff is going to hit his inbox in the morning.

      Misfud is MIA. There is only one person capable of making that happen. Da?

Comment by Dustin M on August 4, 2019 at 9:47pm

I just sent him an email citing the Preservation Act , maybe he will have a change of heart soon. 

What to make about Joseph Mifsud ? I didn't read it all 

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