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 Jo Neuspickel on February 18, 2020 at 9:26am

There are some people that are really pushing hard for a fee to enter Cades Cove and having a bus take people around the Cove! Some of them have even said that you can't get out of your car anywhere in the park! It really is crazy! We have had people look at us like we were doing something wrong by parking our car and walking into the woods!

Comment by Dustin M on February 18, 2020 at 9:08am

Jo Jackson +1 

I've also witnessed a lot of ignorant folks on social media cheering the fee on

Comment by Jo Neuspickel on February 18, 2020 at 9:06am

Thanks John! I tried to read it also but I am not a subscriber. I have noticed on Facebook there are a lot of people that say they are for charging a fee for the Smokys. There is always someone that comes back with the reason they can't charge a fee but people still say "that was then, this is now" and want a fee! I have come to the conclusion that people are just crazy!!!!

Comment by John Quillen on February 18, 2020 at 8:46am

I tried to copy and paste it here Dustin, but it won't let me. It's a long article which essentially says the Smokies is overloved, and visitors are defecating on trails and they have a deferred maintenance backlog and other parks charge entrance fees. Very long article. One big PR ad for an entrance fee, if you ask me.

Comment by Dustin M on February 18, 2020 at 8:41am

Link says , 'Content for Subscribers' .   What are they saying?

Comment by John Quillen on February 18, 2020 at 8:20am

A Smokies entrance fee is coming, and this article makes that clear. This is how they pave the way to charge vehicles, find a park friendly media outlet and focus on all the "bad" things happening. If you read this article, though, you will find that 80 percent of the "deferred maintenance" needs are for roads. 80 percent.  Yet, we all know that most people drive through Newfound Gap road and rarely step out of their vehicles.

Comment by John Quillen on December 22, 2019 at 11:32am

I'm praying that Jim Casada and several of you here will go to this guy and straighten him out on his entrance fee proposal.

Comment by John Quillen on December 4, 2019 at 4:24pm

Wow, I guess we should have seen this coming with the advent of the Backcountry Tax.  Who is the most damaging species in the park? Apparently pesky off trail hikers and backcountry users who touch salamanders in the Smokies.

"Choosing the trail less traveled is an invasive act"   NPS   WOOOW!

Comment by John Quillen on November 6, 2019 at 7:35am

Because that is what Trump would expect, were he ever to set foot in a campground. But his daughter and son in law were in the Smokies a couple of days ago. Wonder where their Amazon delivery went?

Comment by Dustin M on November 5, 2019 at 11:23am

"At the urging of a controversial team of advisors, the Trump administration is mulling proposals to privatize national park campgrounds and further commercialize the parks with expanded Wi-Fi service, food trucks and even Amazon deliveries at tourist camp sites." - more in the LA Times link below

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