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 Myers Morton on Tuesday

The climb is like the Chimneys on steroids.

Comment by Myers Morton on Tuesday

There is no more beautiful place on the face of this planet than the Hangover.  We also successfully preached the SFW Gospel to 4 new converts.  Our ranks grow.

Comment by Dustin M on Tuesday

Awesome pictures. I just got back from Indiana. It's so flat up there it's ridiculous. 

Comment by John Quillen on Tuesday


I've spent every Oct 15 weekend (save for 1 in 1996) on that spot for the past 30 years. Because it is the most beautiful view on earth.  I don't care if it is in North Carolina. They are home mountains in the Nantahala National Forest. Here is a link to some other photos of an excellent sunset and super moon weekend.  Wish you could have joined us.

Ironically, as we were leaving, a man was bringing his three boys down the hill.  I gave them SFW stickers and he said, "That fee is the reason we are here".   Then he thanked us for what we had done.  I fear the day we may have to do the same there.

Comment by Jim Casada on Tuesday

John--Makes an old fat fellow like me envious to see those lovely mountains, know you folks climbed them, and realize how much I miss my beloved high country in what I consider to be the finest of all months in the Smokies, October. Mind you, I could make a sound case for April and May, but all things considered I have to give a slight nod to the loveliness of a mountain fall.

Jim Casada

Comment by John Quillen on Tuesday

A few of us SFWers were able to get into God's country and the no fee zone this weekend.  Mark Cooke, Myers, Kirby Davis, Gary and new converts Tom And Sarah on the Hangover.

Comment by Jo Jackson - Neuspickel on September 28, 2016 at 9:02am

Your welcome!! I am very thankful for everything that ALL of you do!! I hope to get to meet you and others on here someday!

Comment by John Quillen on September 27, 2016 at 9:02pm

...Thank you Jo.

You are, and always have been, a great and consistent supporter. 

Comment by John Quillen on September 27, 2016 at 9:58am

Folks, we are planning on meeting with Ca$h so get your concerns to SFW.  On a bit of housekeeping, they have raised the price of this forum to $255 per year.  SFW funds are critically low so it would be a great time to consider a tax deductible gift to keep us going. Every dime donated has gone to fighting the fee and not once cent to anything else.  Your fully tax deductible donation helps us keep the NPS honest.  We are working to keep these public lands in public hands.  The year is winding down, so any amount is appreciated.  Thanks to those of you who have been so generous in the past and remember the merchants who have supported us such as Uncle Lem's, Little River Trading Company and Suttree's Tavern.  Shop with them and let them know you appreciate their support.  Here is a link to donate.   (Donators will receive waterproof SFW owl stickers!)

Watch this video to remember how we got here.  Thanks so very much.---John

Comment by John Quillen on September 22, 2016 at 11:13pm

This is the comment beneath the article that came out today.  Does it ever speak volumes.

Submitted by Ilex_Opaca on September 22, 2016 - 5:55pm.
This is why I left after 13 years with the NPS. I witnessed someone in law enforcement stealing from visitors and he asked me to turn a blind eye so he could keep doing it. I turned him in, he received a promotion to another park and I ended up with some false allegations made against me and they tried to force me to resign.

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