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 John Quillen on February 18, 2020 at 9:37am

Above is a link to the deed restriction, if anyone needs it for their arguments. Below is a screen shot of the opening of the KNS article.

Comment by John Quillen on February 18, 2020 at 9:33am

Jo, that whole bus around the cove idea was almost implemented in the 90s, but was shut down due to a large uproar by locals in Sevier county who saw the loss of tourism revenue. Our friend Leland was on the front line of that fight. To be honest, I don't hike the backside of the cove anymore because of traffic and wouldn't mind a bus there if it eliminated all the moronory we have to encounter to get to Gregory's Ridge trail. Why people can't pull over when they see a squirrel is beyond me. I get serious road rage just being in that line of cars. It's like they want to make you watch them watch the squirrel/deer/bear instead of the animal.

Comment by Jo Neuspickel on February 18, 2020 at 9:26am

There are some people that are really pushing hard for a fee to enter Cades Cove and having a bus take people around the Cove! Some of them have even said that you can't get out of your car anywhere in the park! It really is crazy! We have had people look at us like we were doing something wrong by parking our car and walking into the woods!

Comment by Dustin M on February 18, 2020 at 9:08am

Jo Jackson +1 

I've also witnessed a lot of ignorant folks on social media cheering the fee on

Comment by Jo Neuspickel on February 18, 2020 at 9:06am

Thanks John! I tried to read it also but I am not a subscriber. I have noticed on Facebook there are a lot of people that say they are for charging a fee for the Smokys. There is always someone that comes back with the reason they can't charge a fee but people still say "that was then, this is now" and want a fee! I have come to the conclusion that people are just crazy!!!!

Comment by John Quillen on February 18, 2020 at 8:46am

I tried to copy and paste it here Dustin, but it won't let me. It's a long article which essentially says the Smokies is overloved, and visitors are defecating on trails and they have a deferred maintenance backlog and other parks charge entrance fees. Very long article. One big PR ad for an entrance fee, if you ask me.

Comment by Dustin M on February 18, 2020 at 8:41am

Link says , 'Content for Subscribers' .   What are they saying?

Comment by John Quillen on February 18, 2020 at 8:20am

A Smokies entrance fee is coming, and this article makes that clear. This is how they pave the way to charge vehicles, find a park friendly media outlet and focus on all the "bad" things happening. If you read this article, though, you will find that 80 percent of the "deferred maintenance" needs are for roads. 80 percent.  Yet, we all know that most people drive through Newfound Gap road and rarely step out of their vehicles.

Comment by John Quillen on December 22, 2019 at 11:32am

I'm praying that Jim Casada and several of you here will go to this guy and straighten him out on his entrance fee proposal.

Comment by John Quillen on December 4, 2019 at 4:24pm

Wow, I guess we should have seen this coming with the advent of the Backcountry Tax.  Who is the most damaging species in the park? Apparently pesky off trail hikers and backcountry users who touch salamanders in the Smokies.

"Choosing the trail less traveled is an invasive act"   NPS   WOOOW!

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