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 16, 2021 at 12:03am

Of course, Jo. Of course.

Comment by Jo Neuspickel on March 15, 2021 at 8:25am

wow!! The next thing will be you need a reservation at trail heads (of course with a fee)!

Comment by Dustin M on March 14, 2021 at 10:23pm


Comment by John Quillen on March 14, 2021 at 9:42pm

We called this one. How does it make YOU feel?

Comment by John Quillen on February 23, 2021 at 10:36am
Comment by John Quillen on February 22, 2021 at 9:42am

     And, you can only MAIL in your comments.  Talk about public comment suppression!  Unbelievable.

Comment by John Quillen on February 22, 2021 at 9:41am

The Turtle made me aware of this one.  Looks like the NPS fee machine is cranking up in full speed, today at the Big South Fork. Take a look at how much they want to increase these fees. Picnic Shelter rentals go from $10 to $30.   Send in your comments.

Comment by Dustin M on January 5, 2021 at 10:04am

Sorry to hear that. Condolences to Jim and his family.

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.

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