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 2 hours ago


Comment by John Quillen 4 hours ago
Comment by Dana Koogler yesterday

Its a mess alright. I sat down and reviewed the candidates and issues today.  I was shocked at what I found. Lots of alternatives to the two main ones, but the bios, platforms, websites, etc that I was directed to on the candidates for the OTHER choices were pitiful.  I will not vote for any incumbent, but as far as voting for any of the other "independents" or Green Party etc.  its a real crap shoot.  The issues are not as bad, but the language on proposed amendment 1 is convoluted as it can be.   As to what John is saying about Lamar.... while he was in the employ of UT and was driving business to the Blackberry Farm.  Clearly that constitutes a conflict of interests.  Duh.  What is very interesting to me is that during my years of service as an employee of UT I had to take a net learning class every freaking year. It is mandatory learning and to my knowledge is required of EVERY UT employee on a yearly basis.  It covers what constitutes a conflict of interests and such.  Did they not make him take the net learning classes? Was that before his time?  or like everything else in life... the rules simply did not apply to him and his chronies?   I am betting its the last one.   I'd be very curious to know if he was required to go through that rigamarole?  It seemed like I'd no more get it done for one year than it would be time to do it all again.   Don't get me started.

Comment by Jim Casada yesterday

I'm glad I don't live in Tennessee, because there's no way, never mind nose holding or anything else, I could vote for either of these men. Alexander is a repugnant, self-serving career politician. Gordon Ball's stance on a whole bunch of things, from the Second Amendment to social issues, is way beyond the pale from my perspective. I wish you Tennesseeans well with this unholy duo.

Jim Casada

Comment by Myers Morton yesterday

There is a difference between capitalism and crony capitalism.

Comment by John Quillen yesterday

Lameass Alexander quote of the day regarding his opponent, Gordon Ball,"  "I've made my money being a capitalist. He made his money suing capitalists."

At least he is telling the truth about something!    He is the biggest capitalist I've ever known.  As president of UT he was steering UT business to Blackberry Farms when he owned an interest in the farm?  Leaning on the park to allow said farm to operate private trail system?  yep, I'd say he knows how to capitalize.

Comment by Dana Koogler on October 16, 2014 at 2:41pm

I think we need to purchase one and take it to Washington and flush a great many of these fee collectors/fee pushers.... and send 'em on a free 'vacation". My treat!  ;^D 

Comment by John Quillen on October 16, 2014 at 2:28pm

that's hilarious, Dana.  I can think of some bureaucrats that need to get on top of one of those "portal" toilets at Tri-Corner, aka the most remote location in the Southeastern United States.

Comment by Dana Koogler on October 16, 2014 at 2:24pm

Oy.  It makes me tired reading this latest thing about the Apostle Islands Ice Caves.  Do people honestly not edit their writing?   Instead of mentioning "portable toilets" they have a special kind of "portal" toilets.  No wonder they are charging so much per person.  I should say so.  A portal toilet must flush you clear into another dimension.  Now hell, if the Great Smoky Mountains National Park had those... I can think of several times in my life I could have used one of those and would have gladly forked over the $5 per person.  I'd have paid them $5 per person to flush the three heifers in the next stall changing out of they wet bathing suits into the next dimension through the portal.  $15 to see them disappear! :-D  Yeah.

Comment by Tom Johnson on October 16, 2014 at 11:43am

Interesting that autos/motorcycles would be charged higher fees than people entering on foot.  I can't help but think that was influenced by SFW repeated illustrations of backcountry/front country fee inequity at GSMNP.

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