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 Joey Bridges on Thursday

shades of nevada's bundy ranch situation.

i don't think it was poor training at all.
i honestly believe that he was acting in just the way they've been told.

i remember last thanksgiving weekend as i dropped my kayak in at the fontana marina.
the ranger who was getting set to go out "on patrol" strutted around me all puffed up in his best steroid induced poses, all the while making damn sure i was aware of the fact that he was armed.
there was absolutely no mistaking his abundance of attitude that day.

we're living in an era where every single federal agency is bullying the citizens.

Comment by Jim Casada on Wednesday

If this fellow is telling the truth, and I have no reason to think otherwise, the ranger in question showed poor judgment. A move towards a weapon when there is no threat and when the only thing at issue is a hard to locate permit shows poor training and a penchant for creating a crisis when one need not exist. Of course we are seeing more of this type of behavior from government types all the time. It's a far, far cry from the rangers I once knew (and they were highly effective, widely admired, respected and did their job in appropriate fashion).

Jim Casada

Comment by John Quillen on Wednesday

Here is the excerpt:  Compliments of fee loving concessionaires, head in the sand dayhikers and Lamar Alexander.

After crossing Fontana Dam, we entered the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for over 80 miles of challenging hiking. The Smokies are more regulated than other sections of the trail. Hikers are required to purchase permits before entering the park, they must sleep in shelters (not tents), and must pass through the park in no more than eight days. On our second morning, we were stopped by an armed park ranger checking permits. A tense moment followed as Carsoni had trouble finding his permit. After a few seconds, the ranger’s right hand slowly worked its way to his hip. Luckily, Carsoni found the permit just as the ranger unbuttoned his holster. Crisis averted.

Comment by John Quillen on Tuesday


I doubt that many at your class reunion could still lead a bushwhack up Juney Whank branch.  It was a perfect day.  And they keep putting our booth right near Suttrees high gravity beer pub that sponsors our fundraisers.           Weird.

Comment by Jim Casada on Tuesday

Kudos to you guys for your efforts this past weekend. I was with you in spirit even as I celebrated our 50th anniversary with the King College class of 1964. It was amazing how old all those folks with whom I graduated looked!

Sounds like it was a great day and I know the weather, at least up Bristol way, was outstanding.

Jim Casada 

Comment by Joey Bridges on Tuesday

ya' gotta love the, Clumpies ice cream co. t-shirt.

Comment by John Quillen on Tuesday

Comment by John Quillen on Monday


Thanks for volunteering last Saturday at Rossinni.  For all who assisted, thanks so much.   It was a big time and we interfaced with lots of people, argued with a few and spread the word of fee freedom.  There was a lot of outrage from the average Joe who couldn't believe they were charging us to park a tent on unimproved ground. Many folks couldn't believe how our local representatives like Lamar and Duncan sat back and did nothing to stop this government over reach, but since they are career politicians who live off our taxes, that is to be expected.  I hope folks remember this in the ballot boxes soon.  Lamar is the biggest Fee lover of them all.  Duncan pretended to give us lip service but, in the end, did Lamar's bidding which was to ignore us hoping we would go away.

Like Bob Corker's lackey told us,  "We take our lead on Smokies issues from Lamar."   I'm personally voting for folks who are able to think for themselves.  Here is a pic from the festival.  I'm also including a link that Kitty just sent.  Someone needs to share this with the  day hikers who think this fee doesn't affect them.;  They could use Vesna as a poster child for this article.

(I will post a picture from the street fair later on.  We had a blast!)

Comment by Rob Cameron on April 14, 2014 at 5:03pm

Someone sent this article to the FB page.

"The Wildlands Project envisions at least half of the land area of North America, restored to “core wilderness areas,” off-limits to humans."

Comment by frank w on April 11, 2014 at 2:06pm

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