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 Tim Fell on January 4, 2021 at 10:12pm

My deepest condolences on hearing of the passing of Jim's wife.

I look forward to reading Jim's latest book,  I imagine it will place him in the ranks of the great Smokies storytellers of Carson Brewer and Horace Kephart.

Comment by John Quillen on January 4, 2021 at 8:41pm

Several of you have asked me about Jim Casada's doings over the past year or so. As you may be aware, his wife was suffering with Alzheimers and finally passed in October. Some good news is that he has just completed a new book and I thought I would share that here as he asked me to let people know about his latest project. I read his other book and look forward to this one just out. Here is what he sent me about that project for those who are interested. I wish everyone a Happy New Year.  John

Jim Casada’s latest book, A Smoky Mountain Boyhood: Musings, Memories, and More has just been published by the University of Tennessee Press.  The work encompasses 41 chapters and spans 300+ pages as well as including an extensive section of vintage photographs. Part autobiographical, it is primarily a window into the world of the middle of the 20th century as the author knew it growing up in his beloved highland homeland.

                A publisher’s blurb for the book states that “in A Smoky Mountain Boyhood Casada pairs his gift for storytelling and his training as a historian to produce a highly readable memoir of mountain life, with stories evoking a strong sense of place and reflecting richly on the traits that make the people of Southern Appalachia a unique American demographic. Containing a strong sense of adventure, nostalgic tone, and well-paced prose, Casada’s book will be appreciated by those yearning to rediscover their childhoods or imaginatively climb these mountains.” Noted writer, Tennessean Rob Simbeck, described the work as “a book to get lost in” and then added: “Jim Casada’s passion for the work of the great outdoor writers is well known, and with A Smoky Mountain Boyhood he cements the case for his inclusion in their ranks. He is folksy, charming, and informative; he is deep and he is funny. He is disarmingly candid and consistently delightful, seasoning his prose with colloquial turns of phras the way the country cooks of his boyhood would season the lavish spreads he describes so lovingly. This is a compendium of mountain lore and ways future generations will be glad he has captured so well and so lovingly.”

                Divided into four sections—“High Country Holiday Tales and Traditions;” “Seasons of the Smokies;” “Tools, Toys, and Boyhood Treasures;” and “Precious Memories”—each of the book’s parts reflect on a memorable coming-of-age in the Smokies. Among the work’s focal points are traditional folkways; hunting and fishing; growing, preparing, gathering and eating wide varieties of foodstuffs; and the overall fabric of mountain life in yesteryear.

                The full table of contents and a sample chapter appear below. Copies of the book are $29.95 plus $5 shipping and handling (Jim Casada, 1250 Yorkdale Drive, Rock Hill, SC 29730). I will cover the extra postage costs if you order more than one copy, so the shipping is $5 regardless of the number of copies ordered. The book will appeal to anyone who cherishes yesteryear, enjoys storytelling, or wants to take a longing look backward into the magical world of a mountain boyhood.

Comment by John Quillen on October 11, 2020 at 9:47am

I was out on the trail for the past week, so when we got to the top of Buzzard's Roost in VA, I received Mark's text. I appreciate that and you, Dustin. 

Comment by Dustin M on October 11, 2020 at 9:10am

All well here

Thanks, John

Comment by John Quillen on October 11, 2020 at 9:08am

I just suspended Nicole Brown from the network. Sorry she has bothered some of you. Thanks Mark for letting me know. If anyone else does this, just let me know.  Hope everyone is well.

Comment by Dustin M on October 7, 2020 at 9:07am

I just did an email search and checked my junk folder. Did not see any from Nicole Brown.

Maybe I deleted it without noticing? I get a lot of emails that I send to the waste bin without reading if I don't recognize the sender.

Comment by Mark Cooke on October 6, 2020 at 9:28pm

Hey Dustin,

If you click on the pull down tab above labeled Main you can scroll and count approximately 68 members that the Nicole Brown e-mail was sent to at the left side of your screen. I checked and did not see your name as well as my wifes.  However, she in fact did get an e-mail from her and was sent from this web site. So based on that info there is something wrong here and at this time no one knows how many members this has been sent to. 

Thanks Dustin for letting us know you received nothing and I guess you have looked in your spam folders as well. Hopefully this has not affected everyone. The fact remains for someone to get these personal e-mails and send out a broadcast type message is concerning.

Comment by Dustin M on October 6, 2020 at 8:44pm

I did not get any email from a 'Nicole Brown'

Comment by Mark Cooke on October 6, 2020 at 8:42pm

If you are wondering about the e-mail that was sent on 10/05/2020 from this site to every member by a supposed Nicole Brown, it appears to be a breach to this website. I have reached out to John and he asked me to let you know that he will address this issue as soon as he is able. I would suggest that you NOT reply to the e-mail by Nicole Brown until this can be checked out.

Comment by Dustin M on September 24, 2020 at 4:58pm

Oh, don't bother him.

I just haven't seen him post in a while and was wondering.

I was going to ask him if he knew anything about Andy Orr of Graham County. Figure from the early 1900s

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