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 16 hours ago

And here is a link to the entirety of our appeal.  It is great reading.  And a great argument.

Comment by John Quillen 16 hours ago

Dear SFW friends and supporters.  Lest ye think we have been idle these past few weeks, fear not.

I am hereby dispatched to inform you fine people that a great many hours (most all Myers) have been spent crafting a brief in response to our appeal of the Judge's decision before the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnatti.  In addition to all the fine work done by Myers SFW has brought another lawyer on board to serve at Myer's disposal.  Many thanks to Laren Knoll who has a wealth of experience before the sixth circuit who has thrown on our rope in support of what she and I call "Myer's Baby".  Laren is an old friend who is sympathetic to the cause and a former backpacker before creating her large family of five children and moving to Ohio.

In reading Myer's argument and following the sixth circuit rulings of late I am very encouraged that we may be before a court that favors the law.  Like Myers always says, "if the law matters, we will win."

And Laren thinks it is a damn fine argument and she has argued a great many with success before the sixth circuit.  I will post the entirety of the appeal for your persual soon.

Many thanks to Myers for all his work and to Laren for hitching her cart to the wagon.  It is time we caught a break.

Comment by Myers Morton yesterday

John.....we're "Rabble"

Comment by John Quillen yesterday


My first read on Brent's post was "Great, how did he do that". 

Then I waited patiently for Brent to recount how Jarvis addressed the issues on the fee.

I would love to hear Brent come over and tell us what Jarvis had to say about the issues.  All he shared was, apparently, that Jarvis doesn't like the tone of our conversation and make it about the people instead of the issue.

I don't give two flying *&^% what Jarvis thinks about our tone. His job isn't the congeniality police.  His job is to create and explain policy.  He sounds like Fitzgerald after the sham meeting you referenced at Sugarlands.  Moustache Junior, Fitz, said he didn't like the things that were being said about Ditz.   Cry me a river.  

Comment by Jim Casada yesterday

I don't know Brent Edwards but am certainly pleased he spoke to Jarvis regarding concerns connected with the fee. That being said, I would simply observe that civility can become a mighty elusive commodity when one deals with a steady diet of lies, half-truths, obfuscation, and arrogance.

I guess that's neither civil nor respectful, but my due diligence as a diplomat went out the window in the aftermath of the meeting with Ditmanson and company at Sugarlands. I was already vexed, but I have no patience with uppity poltroons no matter what their exalted rank or self-opinion.

Jim Casada

Comment by John Quillen yesterday

I'm not on facebook but one of our SFWers sent this to me.  Apparently Brent met with Jarvis and posted this on our SFW facebook page.

Comment by Rob Cameron on Thursday

That should be Ca$$iu$ Ca$h shouldn't it? You couldn't make this stuff up. I'm still trying to figure out how buying kiln dried firewood has ANY effect on stopping the emerald ash borer and other invasive pests. It will not make one bit of difference since they are already here. I started seeing them in the park at least 10 years ago. I didn't know what they were but they were a pretty shade of green and I had never see one before. The firewood will enrich their cronies and cause people to have fewer fires. Both are high on their priority list.

Comment by John Quillen on Thursday

Yes Jim.  1.8 million reasons for the Superintendent Cassius Cash to pretend that Leconte Lodge doesn't contribute to the bear problem up there.   

Comment by Jim Casada on Thursday

John--Unpalatable though it may be, the answer is pretty obvious. Money talks and logic walks, and influence often trumps intelligence when big bucks are involved.

Jim Casada

Comment by John Quillen on Thursday

Jim  :)

I wish someone would press them on why the lodge gets to remain open with all the bear problems when other backcountry sites and shelters are  and have remained closed.  Logic would dictate that the lodge is part of the problem in drawing bears with all the food smells and "guests". 

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