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 April 18, 2016 at 10:28am

The GSMA posted a list of the 100 greatest "Pillars of the Park" with regard to the Smokies.  Is it any surprise that Lamar is chief amongst them along with several other sycophants and pro park journalists?  Similarly, the Knoxville Mercury Magazine put out a front page story on Park Superintendent Cash last week. I suppose that explains why these journalists have little interest in Mark Cooke's data showing that these pillars padded numbers significantly to inflate visitation stats to increase funding.  That is just inconvenient.

Comment by John Quillen on April 11, 2016 at 10:50pm

I'm posting a screenshot of a backcountry permit secured by a guide service, presumably someone operating under the REI umbrella, that paid $140 in backcountry fee money.  You folks can do the math.  The limit for backcountry nights is 3.  Max group size is 8.   If anyone would like to look at these documents, I will send a link.  Any info like this you can dredge is of great assistance right now as we are working with several media outlets to break a story of which this is only a part.  Understand, it is SFW who discovered, through another Freedom of Information Act, that the guide services have their own log in to the backcountry reservation website.  Are the dots getting connected now?

Comment by Myers Morton on April 9, 2016 at 12:09pm

FYI, we filed a motion for rehearing in banc with the 6th Circuit.  We'll post our filing before too long.

The case is not yet formally ended.

Comment by Mike Thorpe on April 8, 2016 at 10:18am

....and once more they turn a blind eye to the crooks in charge

Comment by Jo Jackson - Neuspickel on April 8, 2016 at 7:19am

I'm shocked!!!! (in the best sarcastic type I could use!!) It's hard to be sarcastic on a computer!!!

Comment by John Quillen on April 7, 2016 at 9:05pm

From the "I'm sure no one here is surprised" category.

Comment by John Quillen on April 4, 2016 at 8:39am

Think we will ever see a meeting like this in the Smokies?

Comment by Mike Thorpe on April 1, 2016 at 10:56am

With each passing day the disregard of the public by the "in power elite", just become more and more blatant. Surely appears that our nation has become "of the govt.,by the govt., FOR THE GOVT.

Comment by Jim Casada on April 1, 2016 at 8:00am

John--The story on the failure of the NPS to release funds was front page, above the fold in yesterday's Smoky Mountain Times. As someone who has followed this closely for many years and is a native of Swain County, I can assure you that everyone there feels betrayed--by the federal government and by the Park Service. No wonder there's a bunch of local animosity and pent-up anger directed at both.

I supported the monetary settlement but thought the only way to go about it was to get it all at once. Failure to do so was a mistake on the part of all concerned, and Heath Shuler, who did absolutely nothing to answer constituent concerns about the backcountry fees, has to shoulder some of the blame.

As this story makes abundantly obvious, NPS and Dept. of the Interior officials care nothing about broken promises, broken contracts, lies, or indeed anything that doesn't suit their agenda. Swain County sued because years of trying to get those bigwigs to do what they said they would left them no choice.

Jim Casada

Comment by John Quillen on March 31, 2016 at 11:27pm

Mike,  looks like Swain county is feeling our pain.  My favorite quote, "The General Accounting Office said that the Park Service could release the funds to Swain County if it wanted to."

The NPS can lie whenever it suits them and their money grubbing paws.

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