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 May 6, 2019 at 11:37am

There's a lot of unique and interesting Smokies artifacts in here, so I am told. Sadly, we will likely never get to see them. But there is a climate-controlled and highly paid staff on hand.

Comment by Dustin M on April 25, 2019 at 3:23pm

After you sign, don't be embarrassed to share it with all your friends on social media too 

Comment by John Quillen on April 25, 2019 at 1:35pm

I just sent in the following comment and hope everyone here will send one in as well. These fee proposals are outrageous.

Tsali should be free, full stop. This is public lands fee abuse at its peak. And to double the price of Swann Cabin is outrageous.  No, No. No.

and No.

But we all know that this really won't matter because you will implement them anyway.  So we send in our comments so the Southern Forest Watch can do a FOIA request and provide the tallys to show that your public comments are a sham.

And you know it.

FLREA.   License to steal from taxpayers.

John Quillen

Comment by John Quillen on April 25, 2019 at 1:27pm
Comment by Jan Cooke on March 11, 2019 at 11:04am
We had the great pleasure of hiking with Mike numerous times. A great historian! Even riding around on roads near the park was a history lesson.
Go Rest High On That Mountain, Mike
We will all miss you dearly ❣️
Comment by Dustin M on March 11, 2019 at 10:02am

I didn't know him, but I followed him on Facebook.  He loved to hike and share. Sad to see him leave 

Comment by Jo Neuspickel on March 11, 2019 at 9:49am

Thanks John! I knew Mike and have hiked with him a few times (all off trail)! He really was a wealth of knowledge of the history of the Smokys! I have learned a lot from him on many levels! He will be missed by many!

Comment by John Quillen on March 8, 2019 at 11:15pm

Don't know how many of you knew him but Mike Maples passed away a few days ago. Aside from being an avid off trail guy and expert on history of the park, Mike was a supporter of SFW, despite his acknowledged preference for dayhiking. But, like many, he made his voice heard despite much loudness over at the stye. I wish him and his family peace.

Comment by John Quillen on March 4, 2019 at 4:11pm

Thanks for posting that, Dustin.  I will get Laurel to put this out on the facebook page.

I hope everyone here will comment.


Comment by Dustin M on March 4, 2019 at 12:14pm 

"D.C. politicians and corporate lobbyists recently released a proposed rule dismantling the Clean Water Act, America’s bedrock environmental protection – and it’s just as bad as we feared. If adopted, the rule will open the doors to pollution into the Southern rivers, streams, lakes, and coastal waters we know and love.

Right now, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is soliciting public comments on this risky, unprecedented proposal. If thousands of concerned Southerners like yourself weigh in, we can show our elected leaders that we will not stand for putting our waterways and communities at risk."

Comment Period Ends : April 15 , 2019 

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