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. http://www.westernslopenofee.org/pdfuploads/Fee_Policy_White_Paper.pdf

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.

Recreation.gov 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 December 21, 2011 at 8:57am

this is exactly what i've been talking about. the ones who kept insisting there were problems were only able to state issues at either the shelters or the lodge. neither of which are considered backcountry. that was stated to me directly by nancy and dale at their mid summer soiree.

if there's really dogs being taken up to the lodge via the alum cave expressway, then that indeed is an issue to be made public. especially if it's due to special treatment by the sugarlands crowd.
we already know that they have their "special friends" as only outfitter recommended to guide beginners to the edge of the backcountry.

Comment by Joey Bridges on December 21, 2011 at 7:36am

another point i kept making, and it kept getting deleted, was,

if the supposed overcrowding was creating such the problems that they claimed, but never actually specified, then why wasn't the present staff of park rangers back there taking care of the issues, and dealing with the people creating problems for others ???

why the need to wait until additional funding was gained by taxing backpackers, in order to do the job that they were supposed to be taking care of before things got out of hand ???

the additional addition to this absurd proposal to set up every backcountry site makes no sense either, and will solve nothing. that is, if you buy the premise that there's any problems back there now.

as we all know, the backcountry of the G.S.M.N.P. is a place of great solitude, a place where you can spend days and rarely see another human. lots of bears, but rarely another backpacker.

now the AT and it shelters, the worn out alum cave trail up to leconte and the frontcountry campsites.....there's a different story altogether.

Comment by John Quillen on December 20, 2011 at 10:40pm

It can't Joey.  The backcountry fee is about government control and breaks a longstanding promise upon which the Smokies was founded.

Comment by Joey Bridges on December 20, 2011 at 9:50pm

i would still like to hear from the park service how this fee would solve issues they say exist in the backcountry and its campsites. and why, with it's huge budget, the pittance that would be gained from this could solve a problem that can't be solved with it's existing staff of rangers.

Comment by John Quillen on December 20, 2011 at 8:50pm

Welcome to the Backcountry Tax blog.  Feel free to post whatever you like but remember, only real names.  I may check the phone book to verify your authenticity.  If I can't verify you, you will be removed from the site.  Thanks for looking in.

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