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)

Views: 133444


You need to be a member of GotSmokies to add comments!

Join GotSmokies

Comment by Dustin M on November 29, 2018 at 9:16pm
Comment by John Quillen on November 5, 2018 at 12:08pm
Lamar is already taking a victory lap over this but I believe I will email Georgianna Vines and ask her if Lamar, who was too busy to be bothered with the backcountry fee issue but did have his people say,"We will evaluate it to see if it works for Tennessesseans" would be willing to have the park repeal the fee now. After all, they stand to gain a lot in terms of addressing the maintenance backlog.
Comment by John Quillen on November 1, 2018 at 3:04pm
If it's a horse trail, they open it after extensive repairs. Just a hiking trail like Scott Mtn that intersects with homes that abut the park, NEVER>

Great Smoky Mountains News Release
Release Date: November 1, 2018

Contact: Dana Soehn,, 865-436-1207
Jamie Sanders,, 865-436-1203

Park Reopens Bote Mountain Trail

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced the partial reopening of a 2.9-mile section of Bote Mountain Trail on Friday, November 2 for hikers only. This popular trail provides access from the Cades Cove area to the Appalachian Trail near Spence Field.

The trail section has been closed since September 24 while extensive rehabilitation was underway, involving both the use of mechanized equipment and hand tools. This popular trail, used by both hikers and horse riders, had become heavily eroded and incised due to inadequate drainage. Park trail crews spent several weeks repairing 101 existing drainage structures, installing 10 new drainage structures, repairing over 240 feet of trail tread, and removing rocks, roots, and brush along the trail section.

To ensure the sustainability of the improvements, the trail will remain closed to horse use through the winter, freeze-thaw cycle. During this time, while it is open for hikers only, the trail crew will also continue to monitor the repair. We expect the trail to fully reopen to all use on March 2, 2019.

For more information about hiking safety, please visit the park’s website at
Comment by John Quillen on October 30, 2018 at 6:40pm

Cash and crew are getting shredded in the comments here over the bear feasco.

Comment by John Quillen on October 12, 2018 at 11:09am

Of course they do. Of course Smokies denies blame.

Comment by Dustin M on October 5, 2018 at 10:51am

That's the week after Knox County Fall Break, I'll try to make it. Next time I'm in Maryville passing LRTC I'll stop in and grab something. 

Comment by John Quillen on October 5, 2018 at 10:11am


Thanks for posting that. I was just talking to our SFW board about the event because Erica at Littler River Trading Company, who is hosting the presentation, had indicated they may donate a portion of the sales that night to Southern Forest Watch. Whether that actually happens or not doesn't matter to me. I am happy to do this for them because they have been such magnificent supporters of us and the fight against the fee. When all the corporate folks like the NOC in Gatlinburg lined up to agree with the park, it was LRTC who donated gift cards and prizes for our fundraising activities.

So I hope you and everyone else can  come out on Oct 18 .  I will be showing pictures from the climb and telling the story about our ascent of Everest. Here is a link with details.

Comment by Dustin M on October 5, 2018 at 7:59am
Comment by Donna Davis on October 3, 2018 at 9:48am

Thanks, John! You're always 'ON IT'!

Comment by John Quillen on October 3, 2018 at 9:47am

For those of you that received private messages from James Pollard rest assured I booted him from the network. Despite having the highest security settings for new members sometimes these folks slip through.

© 2018   Created by John Quillen.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service