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 3 hours ago

The article describes an "impairment" of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, does it not?

I wonder if Mr. Eblen will testify?

Comment by John Quillen 3 hours ago Jim said............

Comment by Tom Johnson 4 hours ago

She is of AT fame.  She thru-hiked it, wrote a good-selling book, hiked it at least 1 more time setting some sort of speed record in doing so.  Guessing she does a lot of speaking engagements now.  Probably in her best financial interest to not be too outspoken.

Comment by Jim Casada 6 hours ago

John--I don't know (or know of) Ms. Davis, but a writer who is afraid to share their thoughts and convictions in print is a coward--period. Of course I may inaccurately be accusing her of being a coward. The alternative is that she is supportive of the fee.

Jim Casada

Comment by Joey Bridges 20 hours ago

i follow her on FB.
she doesn't seem to be the type to get involved in politics.

as high a profile as she carries, she probably doesn't want a visit from the BLM attempting to confiscate her yard if she were to speak out against it.

Comment by John Quillen yesterday

Dang Tom.  Looks like our secret stash is out of the bag.  Interesting enough, Jennifer Pharr Davis refused to say anything about the fee when approached by someone to support the cause.  

Comment by Tom Johnson yesterday

I'm guessing they don't have this issue of BP magazine sitting in the Sugarlands lobby

Comment by Tom Johnson yesterday

Comment by Joey Bridges on April 16, 2014 at 11:25pm

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 April 16, 2014 at 5:27pm

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

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