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 Sunday

It all basically goes back to 1 thing.  They are liars.

Comment by Jim Casada on September 14, 2018 at 6:39pm

What a mess, and you have to wonder how many man hours, and how many taxpayer dollars, are involved. Talk about a strange catch-and-release scenario!

Jim Casada

Comment by John Quillen on September 14, 2018 at 2:01pm

Is this as ignorant as it sounds?

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While park managers made the decision to euthanize the bear on Wednesday, the effort to carry out the action is on-going. When the bear was trapped late Tuesday night, a GPS tracking collar was placed on it so that it could be readily found again after park officials were able to review all available evidence and give careful consideration before making any decision. Once the difficult decision was made to euthanize the bear out of concern for public safety, the process of euthanizing the animal has taken longer than anticipated. 

Although wildlife managers know the bear is still in the area, it has thus far evaded efforts for them to get close enough for a clean shot to be taken to humanely euthanize it. The efforts are on-going and Rich Mountain Road and the surrounding area remains closed. 

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Sheridan Roberts, Volunteer Coordinator
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Comment by John Quillen on August 14, 2018 at 6:12pm

Now the world will get to hear the dirty details about how Cash and crew screwed up. The NPS has already filed a motion to dismiss.

Comment by John Quillen on July 25, 2018 at 7:43pm

No. think I will pass, AJ.

Comment by Andrew Sisson on July 25, 2018 at 6:51am

Are you going to it JQ?  Sounds like a nice time with some very influential people close to the NPS!

Comment by Jim Casada on July 24, 2018 at 6:01pm

I'm not sure where their claim of "first" comes from. Possibly they were operating under the NPS radar (although in at least one instance I seriously doubt it), but I know for a fact that various fly-fishing guides were taking clients into the Park well before 1998. In short, the A Walk in the Woods claim about being the first guide service is hokum, baloney, bs, malarkey, or whatever you want to call it. Somehow, given those involved, I'm not surprised.

Jim Casada

P. S. I would also challenge, in no uncertain terms, the depth of knowledge of the region claimed by the owners. I've seen far too many examples of misinformation to do otherwise.

Comment by John Quillen on July 24, 2018 at 5:30pm

It pays to carry water. I love the Freudian typo near the bottom, "door prices".

Comment by John Quillen on July 23, 2018 at 7:39am


Zinke is roundly considered the most corrupt cabinet member remaining after Pruitt was "asked to leave". So a crooked land deal is par for the course for someone and several people who are using their offices for private gain. Zinke is a big proponent of privatization of the parks. You know, letting people like guide services make decisions about things in the NPS.  Sound familiar?

Comment by Dustin M on July 23, 2018 at 7:17am

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