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 3, 2012 at 3:23pm

Maggie--You'll be the grand purveyor of photos of poop and no doubt a real hit at Sugarlands.  Seriously, like Chris, I think it's a good idea, and I would add that photos of seriously eroded trails, along with off-trail horse activity, would fit into this scenario as well.

Jim Casada

Comment by John Quillen on January 2, 2012 at 10:17pm

Including trails as roads is an interesting thought but my understanding of the restriction was specific to Newfound Gap and we are definitely looking into securing that document.

I just finished reading another document on the state of the GSNMP from an outside group, the National Parks Conservation Associations Resource Assessment of the Smokies.  Granted, this document is from 2004, however, of all the potential threats to the Smokies, backpacking was not even mentioned once in the article.  It does make a deal about clean air, auto pollution and the ever so troublesome Cades Cove loop nightmare.  It also suggests that the Smokies was operating under an outdated 20 year old managment plan.

It also doesn't mention a damned thing about George Minnich or anyone's daughter who worked as a candy striper for Dale's tea and crumpets brigade.

Comment by Joey Bridges on January 2, 2012 at 9:42pm

hopefully the courts will make him eat his crayons.

Comment by John Quillen on January 2, 2012 at 9:39pm

And I have a sneaking suspicion that the continuation of our message is being read at the Sugarlands.

Comment by John Quillen on January 2, 2012 at 9:36pm

You are probably right, Joey but what matters is what the court will think.  The  has a go getting attorney who is ready to go full court with Ditz's arrogance.  The article states that they could lose $300,000 dollars if they start charging an entry fee. (and that doesn't include the concession that Maggie mentioned, that's a whole other issue) I would like to see that issue brought to Dale's attention and I have a notion of letting him personally know.

Here is an example.  If I backpack into the Little river trail up to cs 23 on Goshen Prong, then proceed up to the state line and drop back down our favorite, Forney Creek trail and pop out somewhere near Bryson City near the goldmine loop, I will have to drive Newfound Gap road in some fashion to complete this trek.  For the privilege of making that trek on foot, with a backpack, I will have to pay an entry fee to the National Park.  That violates the deed restriction.  It may not violate the restriction in Ditz and Fitz's eyes, but we don't wear the same glasses or helmet.

Comment by Joey Bridges on January 2, 2012 at 9:20pm

i think the inept ditmanson will parse it to say that the camper fee differs from and actual entry fee.

he's obviously so arrogant, that he thinks he can just alter the wording to suit his desires.

Comment by John Quillen on January 2, 2012 at 9:09pm

GSMNP will jeopardize the local collection of fees if they impose a tax on backpackers.  Lamar put this rider in a bill.

Read this and tell me what you folks think.  My reading is that a stipulation for GSMNP to keep all user fees was that they never charge an entry fee.  A backpacking tax is an entry fee. They are, in effect, saying that if you enter the park with a backpack, you must pay a fee.

Comment by John Quillen on January 2, 2012 at 4:34pm

Maggie et al.  This is a picture I took on thursday morning.  Those are OUR tents.  The horse guy asked if he could ride the horse by them because the poor horse was spooked by it all.  Dave told them that if they deposited anything there, somebody was getting of their mount to clean it up!

Comment by Jim Casada on January 2, 2012 at 3:50pm

Maggie--Your sighting of that rare breed, normally found only in a range defined by asphalt, had my heart palipatating for a moment.  Then you revealed the sad truth, it was just a sighting in the normal range.

As for the horses, I think a certain element of these folks are brazen and uncaring to the nth degree, even though I know there are fine horse folks.  Had the horses been at Campsite 16?  I'm convinced that on the occasions where you find trash in backcountry campsites it is, far more often than not, the product of the horse crowd.  I'm not overly familiar with the Tennessee side, but I know that to be the case in N. C.

Jim Casada

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

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