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 Andrew Sisson 21 hours ago

When open we should have a SFW fund raiser there.....

Comment by John Quillen yesterday
Comment by John Quillen yesterday

this is the best LIE of all.

page 43

Additionally, communications from a plaintiff in this matter, John
Quillen (AR 245-46) [Doc. 39-2 ID# 614-15], and another interested member of the public, KittyBenzar (AR 235-36) [Doc. 39-2 ID# 604-05],19 were sent directly to and considered by WASO’s

Director’s Office, and WASO’s Business Services Office.

Comment by John Quillen yesterday

from page 42.

Two hundred thirty comments
and two petitions were received, and it was acknowledged that although many
comments did not support the BCF, the Park’s perception was that most of those comments
likely came from “relatively local, frequent overnight users, who are well familiar with the
park’s backcountry.”

The fee proposal explained that “a significant number of responses received either showed
support for the proposal or offered substantive comments toward improving it.

Comment by John Quillen on Monday

Its all about what is convenient for the NPS.

Comment by John Quillen on Monday

There's been some criticism for the park's approach for collecting public feedback—no comments are being accepted via e-mail, fax or an NPS website, although they can be submitted via U. S. Mail, or in person at a series of public meetings that have now been completed.

Comment by Mike Thorpe on Sunday

Seems like the same old lies, exaggerations, and miss representations being repeated all over again!

Comment by Dan G on Sunday

It is interesting to note that the response is filled with details of high level communication and decision making that appeared nowhere in the administrative record.  If the government lawyers could access this information for the response, is it reasonable to expect that this same information should have also been available for (and included in) the administrative record? 

There seems to be a disconnect in the record with an invisible "nothing to see here" layer of decision making between the input and output of the whole process.  Much hand waving, justification, and denial, but little in the way of email chains, meeting minutes, and other administrative necessities of a decision making process.   It has all been, quite purposefully, it seems, omitted from the record.

Our government is big on claims here, for example, "A more extensive summary of all 230 comments was created for consideration", but what of the consideration?  Were there Emails? Meetings? Dismissive chortling around the water-cooler?  We don't know.  The record doesn't say. 

Comment by Rob Cameron on Sunday
My first response is to make them produce documentation of all the requests for a backcountry law enforcement presence. They claim the public was clamoring for it, but they need to produce their proof.
Comment by John Quillen on Saturday

I uploaded the link to all 68 pages.  Hopefully you can access them through this google docs link.

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