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 John Quillen on November 18, 2021 at 11:51am

It now costs up to 12$ per night to backcountry camp at Frozen Head.  They charge $5 for the reservation and the cost for the campsite depends upon demand!  It can go up even higher if they want to do that.  And nothing stops them. It is good to be kings and queens.

Comment by Jo Neuspickel on October 13, 2021 at 10:55am

I am positive that if it was a horse trail it wouldn't have been closed near this long! I am sure the landowners have a lot to do with it. The last time we were on the loop road (last Spring) it seemed just fine to me! To me it seemed like a waste of our money!

Comment by John Quillen on October 13, 2021 at 10:35am

Thanks Jo, We appreciate your support. I can't believe that Scott Mtn trail has been closed this long. Could you imagine if a horse trail was closed this long or a Leconte trail? We know this has to do with wealthy landowners who abut the park not wanting to have hikers in their backyard. Same as with Ace Gap and the whole Blackberry farm debacle. Ca$h and crew are about serving the Smokies cognoscenti, as Jim would say.  To tell me they cant clear a trail from detritus after spending millions to repave the loop road that didn't have a single pothole says everything you need to know about our Ca$h crew. They are all about filling the pockets of Blalock Construction and keeping the Lamar Alexanders of the world happy with their Smokies backyards.

Comment by Jo Neuspickel on October 13, 2021 at 8:45am

Thank you John and Myers for everything you do!

Comment by Myers Morton on October 13, 2021 at 7:18am

Since then, we supplemented our request, and they changed their minds and granted our fee waiver.  I expect we're about to get a treasure trove of information about Parsons Branch Road, Scott Mtn. Trail and fee increases without public comment in Big South Fork.

Comment by John Quillen on October 6, 2021 at 8:32pm

Myers and I, in conjunction with the SFW board, have been working on the following. I thought it best to share here. As you can see, the saga continues with these folks. The NPS says we have no substantive plan to distribute our requested information. Myers argues that this place is a good vehicle in addition to many others. 

Comment by John Quillen on August 24, 2021 at 6:33pm

Erik,

I didn't find out about this whole scheme until the comment period was over. They obviously shortened the comment period in order not to capture negative emotions. We need to press them on this issue and ask what protocol they are following.

Comment by Erik Gerhardt on August 24, 2021 at 12:33am

Thanks for posting the link to that article, John. 

Though hardly unexpected, it's just sad. I'm surprised it's taken them as long as it has to trot this out after implementing the backpacker tax in 2013. 

I see below that on 7/26 a link was posted to the NPS page with additional info and the opportunity to comment. Do we know if that's when the comment period opened? If so, ending it on 8/7 was a pretty short window. I was out of town that entire time and had no idea that such a plan was being floated. While I've never thought anyone in government gives a rip about my comments, I still submit them, if for no other reason than to be on the record when citizens later question the government's spin on public feedback it received.

Comment by John Quillen on August 9, 2021 at 8:22am

Take a look at this!  Here comes the nickel and diming.

https://www.thesmokies.com/parking-fee-laurel-falls/

Comment by Jo Neuspickel on July 26, 2021 at 3:17pm

Sadly John you are probably right. I did read somewhere that they have a shuttle for Cades Cove too now. I believe it cost $25 a person! I guess my husband and I will have to start exploring the surrounding areas! We have wanted to but never have! This October might just be the time we start!

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