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. http://www.westernslopenofee.org/pdfuploads/Fee_Policy_White_Paper.pdf

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.

Recreation.gov 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 Jan Cooke on March 11, 2019 at 11:04am
We had the great pleasure of hiking with Mike numerous times. A great historian! Even riding around on roads near the park was a history lesson.
Go Rest High On That Mountain, Mike
We will all miss you dearly ❣️
Comment by Dustin M on March 11, 2019 at 10:02am

I didn't know him, but I followed him on Facebook.  He loved to hike and share. Sad to see him leave 

Comment by Jo Jackson - Neuspickel on March 11, 2019 at 9:49am

Thanks John! I knew Mike and have hiked with him a few times (all off trail)! He really was a wealth of knowledge of the history of the Smokys! I have learned a lot from him on many levels! He will be missed by many!

Comment by John Quillen on March 8, 2019 at 11:15pm

Don't know how many of you knew him but Mike Maples passed away a few days ago. Aside from being an avid off trail guy and expert on history of the park, Mike was a supporter of SFW, despite his acknowledged preference for dayhiking. But, like many, he made his voice heard despite much loudness over at the stye. I wish him and his family peace.

Comment by John Quillen on March 4, 2019 at 4:11pm

Thanks for posting that, Dustin.  I will get Laurel to put this out on the facebook page.

I hope everyone here will comment.

John

Comment by Dustin M on March 4, 2019 at 12:14pm

protectsouthernwater.org 

"D.C. politicians and corporate lobbyists recently released a proposed rule dismantling the Clean Water Act, America’s bedrock environmental protection – and it’s just as bad as we feared. If adopted, the rule will open the doors to pollution into the Southern rivers, streams, lakes, and coastal waters we know and love.

Right now, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is soliciting public comments on this risky, unprecedented proposal. If thousands of concerned Southerners like yourself weigh in, we can show our elected leaders that we will not stand for putting our waterways and communities at risk."

Comment Period Ends : April 15 , 2019 

Comment by Mark Cooke on January 31, 2019 at 11:26pm

After reading this article and links to others that were previously printed it is incomprehensible that there is no accountability. Everyone involved at the NPS level again showed their incompetent ability in every position. When you cannot make common sense decisions to contain a fire knowing what could happen when it could get out of control. The NPS has all kinds of past history out West as wildfires are commonplace so they knew what could happen and they also knew how fast things could go downhill. You have to make all efforts to try to stop disasters to attempt to avoid them, you do not have the authority to not react or choose to hope the rain fixes the problem. That was why they had policies to follow, to try to avoid tragedy through good decision processes.  

Leadership starts at the top and again we have been terribly let down by people elevated to their highest level of incompetence. The Peter Principle has again proven to be true and when 14 lives are lost that is the worst ending imaginable. 

"Lawyers for the park want the case thrown out and say fire crews need the freedom to act without fear of being sued or second-guessed later". Fire crews, are you kidding, where is the Superintendent in all of this. Is he not part of not following NPS policies?

I am deeply sorry for the lives lost and the families that are still grieving this catastrophe. 

Comment by John Quillen on January 31, 2019 at 10:22am
Comment by John Quillen on January 7, 2019 at 4:02pm

And today, from the "I just threw up in my mouth" file,

https://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/2019/01/07/tennessee-rocky-fork...

They need to designate the Lamar Alexander Backcountry Camping Tax edict, since he supported it so.

Comment by John Quillen on January 7, 2019 at 8:33am

Thanks Dustin. The DOI is going to use this shutdown as an excuse to institute more fees as outlined in the article below. They are huge FEE opportunists. Those fees from the BLM below are indescribable. 

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