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 December 21, 2011 at 4:45pm

That doesn't surprise me Maggie, everyone is tied to the government in some fashion, including my own contract work with the school system.  You keep doing what you can.  Jim,  I totally agree and am working on your suggestions.  I expect to have an answer as to how to re arrange the comments from first to last like on gosmokies because it is annoying to scroll down.  I also have a solution to the other question and will address that by tomorrow.  The fixes are in the works.  I appreciate everyone's feedback.

Comment by Jim Casada on December 21, 2011 at 4:26pm

John et al.--First, and there may be an easy explanation, I had a devil of a time getting here with a web search (as opposed to using the link you provided).  Second, on my screen, at least, the comments are posted in the order of the oldest first.  If possible, I'd suggest changing that to have the most recent first.  It saves a bit of scrolling if there's stuff you've already read.

With those things out of the way (and I'll virtually guarantee everyone here has far more tech savvy than I do--that's why you don't see a photo of me--I don't have a clue how to put one up and, besides, I'm so homely I'd make a Greyhound bus take a dirt road, so maybe it's just as well), I'll turn to substance.

All of us who are passionate about fighting the fees proposal need to maintain activism, because I'll guarantee that the folks at Sugarlands are shouting Hallelujah right now to the effect "our nemeses (I think that is the plural of nemesis but I'm to lazy to look it up) are gone."

In particular, when the delaying dillettantes finally get around to releasing the FOIA results, each of us needs to do whatever we can to make them known.  Beyond that, I challenge each and every one of you to come up with at least one creative step or idea to keep this to the forefront--that can range from a letter to the editor of your local newspaper (a very useful step and local weeklies, in particular, almost always publish such letters) to thoughts on a "camp in," from suggesting to Ditmanson that a group of fee opponents would like to do a camping trail sweep to pressing on the horse lobby issue.  There's lots more, but I'd rather hear from you than simply rambling on as I am wont to do.

Jim Casada

P. S.  I don't know if many of you have web sites, but if you do they can be most useful because it is likely the folks who access them are friends or folks who have respect for you.  I've touched on this issue several times in my monthly blog or in special e-newsletters, and a few months back that resulted in a radio appearance and garnering scores of signatures on a protest petition.

Comment by Jen M on December 21, 2011 at 3:55pm

Her passive-aggressive posting style with smilies have not gone unnoticed.  They clearly work to her strategic advantage. 

Comment by John Quillen on December 21, 2011 at 3:24pm


The fact that we encouraged the gosmokies moderator to join this blog is evidence of that.  One of the biggest reasons we got shut down is because we embarrassed Vesna Plakanis, though.  Posing questions to her about her obvious economic motivations and blatant ass kissing of Ditmanson left her without recourse but to muster her couch bound friends to complain about the conversation.  I am sure that Vesna is very much in favor of the backcountry fee because it will give her a little personal ranger force to rescue her clients.  I don't know if she realizes how much damage she has done to her business by running her mouth all the time.  Her husband should tell her to shut up.  I'll bet he cringes every time she speaks.  50,000 people she claims to have brought into the Smokies.  I seriously doubt that, but again,we know her to be the liar.  Later, I will tell you about the "client's' she shuttled up to Mollies Ridge this Fall and what they told us she didn't do.

Comment by Joey Bridges on December 21, 2011 at 2:30pm

i truly hope that folks over there will stray over here and join.
i'm not against anyone putting forth opinions that are opposite of any of ours. but they must be heart felt, and based on real personal experiences, or true facts. that's always been the biggest frustration with this topic. nobody from the park service, or those who work in conjunction with them, could ever come forth with any honest reasoning for the fee or the desire to reserve all of the backcountry campsites.

Comment by John Quillen on December 21, 2011 at 2:10pm

I posted a link to this site under Jigsha's justification for shutting down backcountry tax.

Comment by Jen M on December 21, 2011 at 12:25pm

Seriously pissed off.  So typical.  A few whiners can get anything shut down.

Comment by Joey Bridges on December 21, 2011 at 12:23pm

that's a shame. everything was fine until the two trolls, one with hidden moderation status, came in and started baiting, and then stood there doing their best eddie haskel imitation when called out on it.

Comment by frank w on December 21, 2011 at 12:17pm
They have deleted the entire backcounty blog on go smokies.
Comment by Joey Bridges on December 21, 2011 at 11:51am

you saw the copy of the gloating e-mail he sent me, and you saw my reply.

no threats were made whatsoever.

i just said i could hike him into the ground that's all.

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