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 Mike Thorpe on April 11, 2022 at 5:03pm

Bunch of thieves, so glad you guys continue to expose and resist their efforts 

Comment by Jo Neuspickel on April 8, 2022 at 7:49am

From what I have read they will not be enforcing this! They also know that it will NOT help with the parking problems that already exist! To me it is just another way to get money from those of us that visit the park! I have read sooo many people say that they are good with this fee and they know it will help with the parking problems through out the park. How is it going to help if they are not going to enforce it??????? Smoke and mirrors to me!! 

Comment by John Quillen on April 7, 2022 at 8:32pm

These morons that are cool with a 5 dollar parking fee now need to be reminded that our four dollar backpacking fee has doubled in ten years.  So ask them if they are cool with twenty dollars in two decades to pull off and hike up to the Chimneys.  And remind them that Cash gave no consideration to locals for a pass (eg the descendants of those who forfeited this land)

Comment by John Quillen on April 7, 2022 at 10:38am

Lamar rears his ugly head to promote these fees. Remember he wouldn't speak with us when the original backcountry tax was proposed, because it was his idea.  I blasted Ca$h over on instagram and got bombarded by NPS kool aid drinkers, called me a liar and misinformed etc. They really have gotten their minions out.

Comment by John Quillen on April 6, 2022 at 12:38pm

Thanks Tom,  I submitted my comments, not that it will matter.

Thank You!

Proposed Smokies Fee Program Changes for 2023

Your comments were successfully submitted.

April 06, 2022 10:37 AM Mountain Time

Park: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Project: Proposed Smokies Fee Program Changes for 2023
Document: Proposed Smokies Fee Program Changes for 2023
Name: John Quillen
Address: 3701 Lancaster Drive
City: Knoxville
State: TN
Postal Code: 37920
Email Address:
Organization: Southern Forest Watch
Comments: Topic Question 1:
NONE, it's all highway robbery No fees for parking, What is next, a fee for breathing park air?

Comments: Topic Question 2:
NO fee is appropriate for use of taxpayer funded lands

Comments: Topic Question 3:
ABandon this illegal fee scheme in violation of Federal lands recreation enhancement act. No fee is acceptible.

Comments: Topic Question 4:
No fees whatsoever. This violates FLREA and the spirit of the park. This is a backpacking tax.

Comments: Topic Question 5:
It's bullshit. Pure and simple. These comments will not have any bearing on your predetermined decision but we will FOIA them and you better have them in order when we turn them over to the Press.

Comments: No fees. You are violating the spirit of the Smokies and this is illegal. We will FOIA the tally of the comments. You better have your ducks in a row.
Comment ID: 2189165-119753/92
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Comment by Tom Johnson on April 6, 2022 at 12:09pm
Comment by Jo Neuspickel on April 6, 2022 at 12:09pm

It is very outrageous!!! They are coming up with ways to go around the "no charge" for the park! It makes me half sick thinking about this! I do not have any kin in the park but I feel for those that do! If this passes, and I'm sure it will, they will have to pay to visit the cemeteries! Sad sad sad!

It was not unexpected at all! I am actually surprised it took them this long!

Comment by John Quillen on April 6, 2022 at 11:37am

Outrageous, isn't it Jo?  But not unexpected. If they can get away with negligence in the wildfires that killed people, they can get away with taxing citizens and doubling the taxes with no oversight. They are spoiled children who know no consequences. 

Comment by Jo Neuspickel on April 6, 2022 at 10:43am

Just read on WBIR on Facebook that the park now wants to charge a parking fee! They also want to raise backcountry permits to $8 a night and frontcountry $30 or $36 across all campgrounds! I would have shared the article but I'm not as computer savvy as I used to be!!!! It's a bunch of BS if you ask me!!!!

Comment by John Quillen on January 16, 2022 at 9:20am

%91 of commenters approved of parking fees for Laurel Falls?

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