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 Jim Casada on January 2, 2012 at 2:25pm

John--Your level of trust in bureaucrats, especially high level ones, closely conincides with mind.  That is to say, it pretty much doesn't exist.

Jim Casada

Comment by John Quillen on January 2, 2012 at 2:02pm


I don't do facebook either for varying reasons but it would be nice to see folks blow them up with comments.  I'm sure the NPS has one too but I don't think Director John Jarvis gives a rat's ass.  He is probably pushing the idea to Ditz and Fitz.  The DOI may not be aware of the opposition and Jarvis could be, like the Sugarlands, suppressing comments.

Comment by Jim Casada on January 2, 2012 at 1:22pm

John--I don't do Facebook or much else in the way of technology (I think I still prefer my boyhood, where we didn't have a television and our phone was a dial-tone, party-line one), but the idea is a good one.  Keeping up the pressure and awareness is important.

Jim Casada

Comment by John Quillen on January 2, 2012 at 1:01pm

Apparently, the Department of Interior has a facebook page.  It would be a great place to post comments about the Feeasco, for those of you who are facebookers.

Comment by Jim Casada on January 2, 2012 at 10:13am

Chris--If I'm not badly mistaken the law allowing qualified concealed carry permit holders to carry firearms in national parks applies on a national level.  I am, unlike you, in no way against properly trained and certified folks with the appropriate background and licensing carrying in the Smokies or any other Park.  I would virtually guranteed that his perpetrator doesn't have a concealed carry permit (and besides, news stories suggest he used a long gun in the murder).

I don't know that this is the place for a heated argument on pro or anti gun and concealed carry, but as someone who has been around guns all his life, who writes about them a great deal, and who owns a bunch of them, it strikes a nerve with me anytime Second Amendment rights are under assault.  There are studies without number to show that the problems with guns don't stem from trained and permitted folks.

Jim Casada  

Comment by Martin Hunley on January 2, 2012 at 8:06am
Comment by John Quillen on January 1, 2012 at 6:22pm

Think we can talk him into transferring down to the Smokies?  Those are the old Ranger types that have a clue.  The only rangers I saw for two days recently were sitting in the ranger house at Tremont, where it was warm.

Comment by John Quillen on December 31, 2011 at 2:04pm

Amen to that!

Comment by L. Perry Fuqua on December 31, 2011 at 1:16pm

May 2012 find the National Park Service backing down on their ignorant backcountry fee ideas, and may they find other ways to fund their responsibilities to maintain and improve OUR facilities. 

Comment by Jim Casada on December 31, 2011 at 8:31am

Adam--Totally predictable and yet another example of how those who say the backcountry is crowded have the facts and anecdotal examples arrayed against them. 

Jim Casada

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