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 July 28, 2022 at 3:19pm

Comment by John Quillen on July 21, 2022 at 11:30am

Thanks Jo! 

Comment by Jo Neuspickel on July 21, 2022 at 11:20am

Signed by me

Comment by John Quillen on July 21, 2022 at 10:59am

Let's go ahead and get everyone to sign this. Ca$h needs to understand that we can get along without him.

Comment by John Quillen on June 17, 2022 at 12:13pm

WATE just aired a segment about the opposition to the parking fee. They referred to it as "double taxation" and borrowed our language from which the NC resolution was drafted.  Here is a link to the story.  Ca$h isnt going to like this at all. Perhaps we should have everyone mail a copy to him.

Comment by John Quillen on June 15, 2022 at 8:00am

The North Carolina legislature just passed a resolution condemning the Smokies parking fee.  This is some mud in the eye of Cash and crew.

Comment by John Quillen on June 2, 2022 at 1:56pm

Thanks Erik. It was difficult to cram it all in there. But, after reading the ignorant comments there and elsewhere, it is obvious that the largely emotional millennials generation is okay with any amount of money being charged by the NPS because they help the bears and wildflowers and butterflies. I asked the editor about a print version but he hasn't responded yet.

Comment by Erik Gerhardt on June 2, 2022 at 12:16pm

Nice job, John.

It's difficult when there are so many misrepresentations (to be kind) widely circulated and commonly reinforced to even know where to begin when limited to a mere 600 words for a rebuttal. 

Did KNS indicate when it would appear in print?

Comment by John Quillen on May 31, 2022 at 10:46am

I'm grateful to Joel Christopher at KNS for printing the SFW position on this parking fee and increase in backcountry camping fee. Of course, the usual GSMA and Sugarlands trolls are out in force in the comments there. But, the KNS is THE only E. TN publication to even allow dissent.

Comment by John Quillen on May 11, 2022 at 8:11pm

If Mark's rated an "Amen", then yours, Erik, warrants a passing of the plate. Those words are golden and I will be borrowing liberally from them over the next months. Particularly important is the Maunday Thursday sham meeting. Like many others, I was in church. Which is where some of these lying, Ca$h grubbing bureacrats are unable to enter for fear of lightning strikes. Having sat across from Ditmanson and watching him lie to us back in 2012, I find Ca$h much more noxious. He is too busy to answer emails or follow the law on FOIA requests, which he has been sitting on from us for well over the deadlines. We even got a letter from the NPS lawyer encouraging us to file an appeal so they can drag their asses even more. Why are they doing this? Because they can. In Myer's words, "They are Kings, not bound by the law". What they do not want to answer is why Scott Mountain trail remains closed. We know the answer, they are just hesitant to put it on paper and fork over the private email conversations between them and the abutting land owners. It's another Blackberry Farm v 2.0.

I appreciate the due diligence you put into your comments. It is not wasted here.

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