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Knothead
08-16-2011, 04:08 PM
Our local paper had a small article about charging fees for backcountry campsites. They are looking at generating revenue for more staff to patrol the park. I did a search with "great smoky mountain fees" and came up with a whole sackful of information. For those who have been monitoring this issue, I suggest you do the search. We'll see what happens.

Crockett
08-16-2011, 09:08 PM
I have been monitoring it closely and will be at the meeting on Thursday night at park hq. Any other folks from the forum going to be there?

JoeFred
08-16-2011, 09:22 PM
Adam, thank you for planning to attend. I'm anxious to hear more.

Crockett
08-16-2011, 09:46 PM
Yeah there is some big movement and outrage on this. Just this week more than 500 people signed a petition against it at the Little River Trading Company in Townsend. The petition made WBIR news tonight lots of folks talking about it. I think the park kinda thought backpackers wouldn't fight much they are a small and passive group after all who like to get away from it all you know. Heath Shuler and other reps are getting involved I have heard but the fight isn't over by a long shot. Hopefully at the very least folks who can't come to the meeting will let the park know what you think about issue by emailing comments to the park about the proposal to charge fees for backcountry camping at: grsmcomments@nps.gov (grsmcomments@nps.gov)

MBB
08-17-2011, 08:15 AM
I could understand a general admittance fee to all who enter the Park. But, I do not believe that the back country backpackers should bear all of the burden alone for the need for revenue. It is fundamentally unfair.

Knothead
08-17-2011, 02:24 PM
The park cannot charge an admission fee as there is a clause in the deeding that prohibits the fee. This was a point in one of the sites that came up on my search. I'm sure that there are other ways to contribute. Do any of you out there put money in the boxes on the Cades Cove Road?

MBB
08-17-2011, 04:59 PM
The park cannot charge an admission fee as there is a clause in the deeding that prohibits the fee. This was a point in one of the sites that came up on my search. I'm sure that there are other ways to contribute. Do any of you out there put money in the boxes on the Cades Cove Road?

It is my understanding that the state legislatures of Tennessee and North Carolina could change the restriction and permit a fee, but both would need to agree.

benintenn
08-17-2011, 08:27 PM
I know I'm prolly in the minority here but I would be ok with a small fee as long as they can guarantee the money would go toward backcountry enforcement. I've read the pure outrage on other boards about this and you have some strong opinions on both sides.

If I spend $300+ on fishing gear, $400+ on backpacking gear, and $50 on a Fontana shuttle, then I think I can handle $4/night. Personally, I'm tired of finding sites trashed and maybe, just maybe an extra ranger might be able to bust the violators.

I saw some pictures online of the bear cables on Hazel Creek loaded down with coolers and massive amounts of food brought in by carts. That has to be some sort of food storage violation. I can only imagine the amount of trash that was produced and some probably didn't make it back out.

pineman19
08-17-2011, 09:13 PM
I know I'm prolly in the minority here but I would be ok with a small fee as long as they can guarantee the money would go toward backcountry enforcement. I've read the pure outrage on other boards about this and you have some strong opinions on both sides.

If I spend $300+ on fishing gear, $400+ on backpacking gear, and $50 on a Fontana shuttle, then I think I can handle $4/night. Personally, I'm tired of finding sites trashed and maybe, just maybe an extra ranger might be able to bust the violators.

I saw some pictures online of the bear cables on Hazel Creek loaded down with coolers and massive amounts of food brought in by carts. That has to be some sort of food storage violation. I can only imagine the amount of trash that was produced and some probably didn't make it back out.

I agree as long as the money is well spent. The $10 option is too high IMO, but 4-5 bucks is reasonable, as long as they enforce the rules at the highly used areas, maybe it would even reduce their use a little which wouldn't be a bad thing at some sites. There is a cost associated with maintaining BC sites, maybe not nearly as high as FC sites, but a cost just the same.

Neal

JayB
08-17-2011, 09:42 PM
If the rangers are spending all of their time monitoring Hazel, AT shelters, and the busy sites, let the hardly used sites stay free. I dont spend much on my gear, and when you take a group of kids everytime and you're paying everything it adds up quick. If they do the $4 per person per night, for 5 two night trips and 4 one night trips, im looking at $224, I could have bought my kids decent hiking boots for that! I havent been to any of these highly used sites, and when I do find a site with any trash in it, we clean it up ourselves. We talk about backpackers not bearing the burden of teh rest of teh park, why make people that dont camp at trashed problematic sites bear the burden for those that choose to. Im pretty happy with my relatively clean sites that are less than 3 miles from the road.

NDuncan
08-18-2011, 01:54 PM
They can't guarantee that the money will be spent for back country enforcement. What if the inclusion of fee impacts the number of visitors? Now their revenue predictions are off and they don't have enough to pay for rangers.

Here is one idea... Retask the rangers that sit up on the 18 mile stretch of foothills parkway between Walland and Chilhowee all day and let Blount county write tickets up there is they really want to.

Even if they do get enough money from the proposed fee to have the two rangers they want and even if they dedicate 100% of their time to backcountry enforcement, with the 110ish shelters and sites, you will be lucky if each site is visited once every 30 days - so they will still get trashed out, and the odds of getting caught are about as high as the odds of a ranger seeing the people that throw trash out of their cars in the park.

Encouraging responsible people to visit the backcountry as much as possible probably has far greater effects on the cleanliness of the sites. Yes we get pissed when the site has a bunch of food and trash left behind, but when we leave it is better shape than when we got there. If it becomes financially prohibitive to go into the back country, say twice a month, as many of us do, because we don't all have an extra $100 each month lying around to just pay camping fees and the amount of cleanup we do far surpasses the value of any small fee, we won't go as much, and trash will build up more than it already does. Losing the regular visits of the large number of regular, responsible visitors will have a far bigger detrimental consequence to the overall condition of the backcountry of the park than the positive benefits brought from having two dedicated backcountry rangers.

Knothead
08-18-2011, 06:55 PM
NDuncan, I like your attitude. Clean up and leave it better than when you found it.
I tell the students at my Hunter Ed classes to stuff a couple of plastic grocery bags in their pocket. They weigh nothing and can be used to pack out trash that some other trash left behind. My son and I were dove hunting over a TWRA lease field a few years ago. He found about two boxes of empty shells. I'm not the brightest candle on the cake but I know empty shell weigh less than full ones! We picked them up and put them in the trash when we got home.

tn hound
08-19-2011, 02:04 PM
if the fee goes into effect, does that mean they will keep up with how many people will be camping at each campsite, each day? My question is, will the fee guarantee you a spot at the campsite? Because there will be a lot of unhappy campers if they paid to camp at a backcountry site and there is no room after a 6 mile hike and darkness looming.

Grannyknot
08-19-2011, 02:38 PM
It is sounding more and more like this is a done deal. My biggest concern is what this is going to do to our national forests. Goodbye NF solitude.

Oldman
08-21-2011, 06:43 AM
How can the politians from nc and tenn decide a fee or no fee. I thought it was a National Park not a two state park. I am totaly against charging a fee but like a shark that smells blood...once they smell dollars its hard to stop bureaucrats.
Another note... we as fishermen and hunters are and have been paying a use fee for National Forests while hikers and others pay nothing. I had a friend who rode his horse on NC gamelands and got a ticket for not having a gamelands use permit. He beat it in court because there was no signs indicating that one was required. There isnt a sigh saying I have to have one to fish either but its in the book.

There are just too many people using the backcountry sites now. The more people the more trash and bear problems and reasons governments can find a source of revenue. ie, If campsite #47 (insert any campsite) is getting too much pressure, trashed and bear problems its mainly because there are lots of folks using it, right? So, bureaucracys thinking: "Lets charge a fee and that way we generate more revenue (to spend as we want) and we will be able to cut back on the use of backcountry sites and kill 3 birds with one stone, less trash, bear problem gone and more money to spend."

Owl
08-21-2011, 11:37 PM
It's the federal government. It's almost always a "done deal" by the time the public hears about it. Have you ever heard of something going the People's way? From parks to water treatment plants to stocking to regulations to...you name it. Maybe 5% of the time it doesn't pan out like the official "deciders" planned it. Meetings and hearings and all that jazz...it's just to let you blow off steam before they go ahead and do whatever it is they've already told you they're going to do. :) LOL

As for the burden of fees being only on Back Country campers, I think someone's a little confused. Front Country users pay between $17 and $20 per night to camp in the Park's campgrounds. Asking people who have been camping in the Park for years for free to pay $4 a night or $10 a year and $5 a night doesn't seem so bad compared to that, does it?

Those who are in an uproar over a fee to camp are the same people that would whine and moan if the Park Service ran out of money and closed all the camping - FC and BC - in the Park. So then, compare that $4 fee to a $60-100 a night hotel room if the loss of camping in the Park altogether should happen. Don't think that's possible? Keep dreaming. They almost shut it down last year on a technicality...

I think $4 is reasonable, the petition makes false claims about Front Country campers, and sportsmen and women need to grow up and face the economic music. Not just in this, but in everything. You know, if you BC users really don't want to have to pay a fee, I'm sure the Park Service could save alot of money if they just cut out BC camping altogether. No need for more patrols, no need for paying a fee.

In hard economic times you can find more revenue, or you can make cuts. But only in Fantasy World can you do neither, and still survive.

ChemEAngler
08-22-2011, 11:57 AM
I see both sides of this.

Owl makes some good points. Like I said in a previous post, nobody wants government involved until it begins to affect something they have an interest in. Then all of a sudden, people start asking for the government to do more. If we as society continue to ask more from our government then more of these freedoms and privileges that we have enjoyed will vanish. Government can only do so much with what they have. I agree that things in Washington are a complete mess, and needs an overhaul. However, that is not going to happen anytime soon. We have career politicians running things there, and they could care less about what the average citizen wants.

I also agree that this is a bit unfair to the people who actually use the resource. The fishermen pay for a license, front-country campers pay for sites, and now backcountry campers are probably going to have to pay. Why do the hikers, horseback riders, tubers, and car traffic not have to pay. I still believe that an entry fee to the park would be much more beneficial and fair to all. I realize that currently they are not allowed to charge a fee, but as I said previously GSMNP is the only national park I have ever been to that doesn't charge a vehicle entrance fee. You can't tell me that charging a $10/vehicle fee will prevent people from entering the park (or a set annual fee for). Especially when they are staying in G-burg and paying >$100/night for a hotel room and driving over to Cherokee dropping who knows how much in the casino. That is a bunch of crap in my opinion. $10 is only going to prevent a tiny percentage of people from entering the park, and most likely those are the thru drivers who are just passing through congesting the traffic, and contributing to the pollution and litter.

Finally, I know that there are some backpackers who are on very tight budgets. However, I can't tell you how many times I have been into the various camping/hiking stores around town and see many people dropping $250 for a sleeping bag or $400 for a tent. You can't tell me that somebody who is going to spend that much for gear can't afford to spend $4/night for a backcountry site. Maybe you just can't buy that new $300 Marmot sleeping bag this year in order to afford a couple backcountry trips. However, you will still have enough money left over to buy yourself a very nice Big Agnes, REI, or Kelty sleeping bag instead. Similarly if you are a backpacking flyfisherman, maybe you just don't have enough money to spare for that new Helios this year and instead will have to buy an Access, TFO, St. Croix, etc.

It is all a matter of where and how people emphasize their priorities, and how much a person expects the government to give.

Just my two cents.

Knothead
08-22-2011, 01:10 PM
I think I mentioned that deeding for the park forbids an entrance fee.
I had a friend who rode his horse on NC gamelands and got a ticket for not having a gamelands use permit. He beat it in court because there was no signs indicating that one was required. There isnt a sigh saying I have to have one to fish either but its in the book.
In Tennessee, part of our Hunter Education material states that ignorance of the law is not an acceptable excuse. If you say, "I didn't know I couldn't do that," it doesn't hold water. Just because there are not signs indicating game laws and limits, it is the responsibility of the person to know what the law says. Chapter One- Responsibility is one part that I teach.

tennswede
08-22-2011, 06:24 PM
I see both sides of this.

Owl makes some good points. Like I said in a previous post, nobody wants government involved until it begins to affect something they have an interest in. Then all of a sudden, people start asking for the government to do more. If we as society continue to ask more from our government then more of these freedoms and privileges that we have enjoyed will vanish. Government can only do so much with what they have. I agree that things in Washington are a complete mess, and needs an overhaul. However, that is not going to happen anytime soon. We have career politicians running things there, and they could care less about what the average citizen wants.

I also agree that this is a bit unfair to the people who actually use the resource. The fishermen pay for a license, front-country campers pay for sites, and now backcountry campers are probably going to have to pay. Why do the hikers, horseback riders, tubers, and car traffic not have to pay. I still believe that an entry fee to the park would be much more beneficial and fair to all. I realize that currently they are not allowed to charge a fee, but as I said previously GSMNP is the only national park I have ever been to that doesn't charge a vehicle entrance fee. You can't tell me that charging a $10/vehicle fee will prevent people from entering the park (or a set annual fee for). Especially when they are staying in G-burg and paying >$100/night for a hotel room and driving over to Cherokee dropping who knows how much in the casino. That is a bunch of crap in my opinion. $10 is only going to prevent a tiny percentage of people from entering the park, and most likely those are the thru drivers who are just passing through congesting the traffic, and contributing to the pollution and litter.

Finally, I know that there are some backpackers who are on very tight budgets. However, I can't tell you how many times I have been into the various camping/hiking stores around town and see many people dropping $250 for a sleeping bag or $400 for a tent. You can't tell me that somebody who is going to spend that much for gear can't afford to spend $4/night for a backcountry site. Maybe you just can't buy that new $300 Marmot sleeping bag this year in order to afford a couple backcountry trips. However, you will still have enough money left over to buy yourself a very nice Big Agnes, REI, or Kelty sleeping bag instead. Similarly if you are a backpacking flyfisherman, maybe you just don't have enough money to spare for that new Helios this year and instead will have to buy an Access, TFO, St. Croix, etc.

It is all a matter of where and how people emphasize their priorities, and how much a person expects the government to give.

Just my two cents.


Agreed, a voice of reason.

Oldman
08-22-2011, 09:07 PM
I think I mentioned that deeding for the park forbids an entrance fee.

In Tennessee, part of our Hunter Education material states that ignorance of the law is not an acceptable excuse. If you say, "I didn't know I couldn't do that," it doesn't hold water. Just because there are not signs indicating game laws and limits, it is the responsibility of the person to know what the law says. Chapter One- Responsibility is one part that I teach.

Exactly what I thought. How the **** he got out of it is beyound me.


You know. If they say you cant camp anymore in the backcountry then why would they patrol it. That tells me I could set up a camp in just about any hollar without a fire. How they gonna catch me if they dont patrol.
No campers in the bc only hikers. I could harvest some sang too. :biggrin:

flyman
08-22-2011, 09:24 PM
My fear is that we pay more in fees, and all we get in return is increased hassle with obtaining the permits and regulations. I can see expanding the sites that require reservations, but I fail to see the need for every site to require one. I've never had any problem obtaining a permit, especially since they went to the self reservation type system. Years ago you had to go to one of entrance stations, or a ranger station to obtain the permit. I think increasing the sites that require a reservation would take care of most of the problem. It would be nice if they left a few for people making last minute trips, or into areas that seldom get used.

Hoosier
08-23-2011, 10:09 AM
I would be okay with it if I knew that the money was going to go to BC sites. Even if it was just to site maintenance and not necessarily enforcement. Unfortunately it probably won't. Even if it did, the mgmt would likely look at it like, well now they have a special fund for BC sites, therefore no need to fund them out of the park's general budget, and now that money budgeted goes someplace else. And that does happen. Also, $4 more for camping each night, .50 cents more a gallon gas to get there, 5% more for tippets to cover increased production cost, cost of boots and clothing increasing 10%, and on and on, it is getting so it is a slow death by a thousand cuts. Just getting harder to make ends meet when everyone is dipping into our wallets for just $4 more. But like mentioned in an earlier post, probably already a done deal, and all it is doing is hitting those who are honestly playing by the rules.

501
08-23-2011, 10:55 PM
To me its not the 4$ or 10$ but in how the money will be used. Yes sites do need to be maintained but the real problem is enforcement of existing regulations. Many times have I seen people using the sites without permits. If I thought the generated funds would be used for enforcement then I might be more in favor. Our powers that be though have a way of diverting and watering down funds like these to the point that I wander if they would have any impact. Maybe everyone who enters the backcountry should be charged, not just those who sleep on the ground. Of course this is a rediculous idea but it does indicate (in my opinion) that a much more involved study should be undertaken. No one wants to see a toll gate at every trailhead!

Lee

hexhatch
08-23-2011, 10:56 PM
I use the BC campsites a few times/year, and the problems I encounter are the following:

Can't reach the BC reservations desk because the line is busy
No available spaces in the preferred campsite
Crowded BC campsites b/c folks camp at sites without registering
Broken bear cables
Personally, my experience is that many folks don't appreciate that which comes at no cost. So, I wouldn't mind paying a few dollars/night in order to provide better enforcement of the BC rules and regulations, to provide an online reservation system for the BC sites, and to help maintain and repair the sites.

Face it folks, we risk killing the goose that is laying the golden eggs for us if we don't put our money where our mouth is for the GSMNP BC. It is only fair for those who use the BC help pay to maintain it.

Streamhound
08-24-2011, 02:31 PM
If they were to charge a fee the should have a reservation system for the sites. That way the BC folks could reserve a site and pay their money. If we can do it with hotels/cabins and guides and airlines then it should not take too much to set the system up for the park

NDuncan
08-24-2011, 09:45 PM
Jum Casada wrote an excellent piece about this issue in his addendum newsletter. If you don't already subscribe, I recommend it. I would repost it here, but feel akward doing so without his consent, since he sometimes frequents the forum, so maybe he will do so himself.

Crockett
08-25-2011, 09:58 AM
Nathan I enjoyed that addendum Jim wrote also and I sent him an email this morning asking if it was fine alright tp post it here. He agreed so here it is:

Say NO to Backcountry Fees in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/gsmnp_backcountry_fees/ (http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/gsmnp_backcountry_fees/)

As should have been obvious in my monthly newsletter offerings, I had a wonderful boyhood. Much of it was spent fishing and camping in the bosom of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, happy, carefree, and untroubled by much government intrusion of any kind. I purchased my annual fishing license, obtained permits when I ventured into the backcountry for overnight stays, occasionally showed the contents of my creel to a Park ranger, and enjoyed a blissful adolescence.
Much the same situation has prevailed in all the intervening years, although I have watched, with increasing vexation and alarm, as a series of bureaucrats wearing the title of Park Superintendent, along with all too many misguided minions, seemed ****-bent on doing wrong for the Park I cherish and where my father, in his own boyhood (and before the establishment of the Park), spent what were arguably the happiest and most memorable of all the 101 years of his life.

These intrusions have taken a variety of forms and seem increasingly onerous. In that regard I guess you could say that they are a microcosm of the way government in today’s world seems to act on all fronts. It wants to be in our lives, direct our every action, and dig into our vanishing financial resources at every turn. All of this has led me, in company with three other folks who are equally passionate about the Smokies, to formulate a petition protesting a plan which would see anyone who ventured into the backcountry of the Smokies to stay overnight burdened with onerous fees. These would come in two forms—a required payment to register for camping and a night-by-night charge to sleep out in the open beneath the starry skies of the Great Smokies.

Never mind that there has never been a charge in the 76 years of the Park’s existence.
Never mind that shortly after the Park was established a promise was made that there would never be access fees for use of the Park.
Never mind that the Park’s own statistics show backcountry camping is in decline and has been so since the mid-1990s.
Never mind that this comes at a time of straitened economic circumstances for many.
Never mind that we are at a point in our nation’s history when we need more youngsters and young people being encouraged to take to the woods, as opposed to facing financial and logistical barriers to do so.
Never mind that the Park has long been guilty of salutary neglect of the backcountry.
Never mind that those who regularly use the backcountry are some of the finest stewards of the Smokies.
Never mind that millions of dollars (your taxpayer dollars) in “stimulus” funds went to the Park as part of the Obama administration’s TARP program.
Heedless of all these things, Park officials are plowing ahead to institute fees for a Park specifically established for the “enjoyment of the people” and in a place where thousands gave up their homes to make it a reality.
I have never previously, in my 69 years, been part of presenting a petition, but I’m so passionate about this that I am doing so. I hope you will go to the petition, no matter where you live, and add your voice to those in protest. You may have never been to the Smokies, but that’s really beside the point. If you feel, as I do, that the onerous hand of the government is laying hold of us at every turn, I urge you to read this petition and its points of justification, and then sign it. Seldom have I felt more strongly about an issue, and enough opposing voices may just give Dale Ditmanson, the superintendent of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, pause to ponder the wrong he is doing.
Here’s the link:
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/gsmnp_backcountry_fees/ (http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/gsmnp_backcountry_fees/)

JoeFred
03-07-2012, 12:52 PM
...


From Jim's article...

Never mind that we are at a point in our nation’s history when we need more youngsters and young people being encouraged to take to the woods, as opposed to facing financial and logistical barriers to do so...

If this goes into effect, I'm considering (just considering) offering a $4 rebate on a map purchase to anyone who produces an initialed fee receipt showing they and their younster(s) spent a Saturday night at a Smokies backcountry campsite. Such seems to work pretty well for church bulletins at the local Zaxby's. Ideally worship would be involved, but clearly that would not be a requirement of mine.:smile:

Grannyknot
03-07-2012, 12:55 PM
Smokies Backcountry Camping Fee Approved



GATLINBURG -Great Smoky Mountains Superintendent Dale A. Ditmanson

has announced that the Park’s proposal to begin collecting for the use of

the Park’s backcountry campsites and shelters has been approved by the

National Park Service. This approval clears the way for the Park to move

forward with developing an on line system to collect fees beginning in 2013

for reserving and use of the Park’s backcountry by overnight hikers and

equestrians.

The Park developed the plan in order to improve its trip-planning and

reservation services to users and to expand its backcountry Ranger presence

to better protect park resources through enforcement of food-storage and

other regulations and improved visitor education regarding Leave-No-Trace

principles.

The proposal was open for public comment last summer and some 230

written comments and two petitions were received during the comment period.

According to Ditmanson, the public comments provided a great deal of

constructive input on the concerns Park backcountry users had about the fee

plan. “Many commenters were under the misconception that the Smokies is

legally prohibited from charging user fees. The Park is prohibited from

charging a toll or license fee from motorists crossing Park roads, by

language in a 1951 deed under which the ownership of some park roads was

transferred from the State of Tennessee to the National Park Service. But,

we have long been authorized to collect user fees for specific activities

such as front country camping, weddings, and commercial filming.”

(over)


Smokies Backcountry Fee Proposal – page 2



“There was also a significant amount of concern about our initial

plan to utilize the same computerized federal reservation system,

www.recreation.gov (http://www.recreation.gov/) that virtually all national parks use to reserve

drive-in sites in front country campgrounds. We acknowledge that some of

the policies, such as the lead time for making reservations and

cancellations, are not a good fit for more spontaneous backcountry users.

We will not use that system unless we are convinced that it can provide the

level of service we want to offer, and are exploring the alternative of

developing a stand-alone software program tailored specifically to the

Smokies. The system developed will also need to be practicable for

Appalachian Trail thru hikers whose itineraries evolve from day-to-day.”

“Concern was also raised about the range of fee amounts that were

under consideration and that the resulting revenues may be diverted to

other programs. We have decided to focus our plans around the lowest and

simplest of the fees under study: $4 per night per person. Most

importantly, 100% of the revenue from this program will be invested in

improving back-country services through extended hours of the back-country

office, trip-planning assistance, on-line reservations, and protection of

park resources through increased ranger staff. ”

Now that the proposal has been approved, Park managers plan to

provide periodic updates as plans for the reservation system evolve.


About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service

employees care for America’s 395 national parks and work with communities

across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home

recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov. (http://www.nps.gov./)


Bob Miller
Management Assistant
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
(865) 436-1207
FAX 436-1204

I think they are considering this the official press release.

Crockett
03-07-2012, 12:57 PM
Thanks Grannyknot

JoeFred
03-07-2012, 01:04 PM
"...overnight hikers and equestrians..."

This is a way too serious a matter for "horsing" around, but do I perceive a potential loophole here for us none-of-the-above types?

Jim Casada
03-07-2012, 03:42 PM
Yes, this is the official press release and it has me seething. First of all, what the release doesn't say is that the ratio of those opposed to the fees as compared to those in favor was 19 to 1. Also, the two petitions which are mentioned almost as an afterthought garnered many hundreds of signatures, never mind that the time period to do so was very short.

To make matters even worse, [The Park Service] screwed up big time in the original announcement of the hearings (there were only two, and even at those the public did not have the opportunity to address others in attendance). [The Park Service] press release gave the wrong dates and comment period. I personally called [the Park Service] and challenged the changes. [The] response was "we've corrected it." My answer was that you can't really correct something which has already been printed in regional media and announced over the air. Incidentally, the only "correction" was on the Park's web site. There was no formal follow up press release as a corrective.

The simple matter of this is, couch it any way you want, the public's input meant absolutely nothing. It was virtually ignored. I might add that the Appalachian Trail folks spoke out against this and I fully anticipate a special "dispensation" of some kind for them, never mind the fact that pretty much the only backcountry camping issues are at AT shelters.

Finally, if you read my op-ed piece on the whole issue (it appears above) you will see that the entire justification for the fees was based on a lie. The backcountry is far less crowded now than it was in the 1990s, and anyone who spends much time in remote areas can share tale after tale of walking by campsites which not only have no campers but show no sign of recent use.

In summation, this is bureaucratic arrogance at its worst, and whatever modicum of respect I had for [the Park Service] just vanished. [They] betrayed some of his greatest potential allies, and guess who this impacts most: local folks.

Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

flyguys
03-07-2012, 06:19 PM
Although 4 dollars does not seem like much, it seems that it would have a negetive impact on the "local folks" as Mr. Casada points out. (I hope to be a local folk one day). At 4 dollars a night , it could get pretty expensive for someone that spends many nights in the backcountry. My fear, regardless of what the press release states, ids that these monies will be put into the general fund and just seem to dissapear with no earmark for the intended purpose. We all may end funding another study on the mating cycle of the South American wooly moth. That is not something I want my tax dollars or fees to pay for. flyguys

JoeFred
03-07-2012, 06:50 PM
Yes, this is the official press release ...
guess who this impacts most: local folks.

Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

Count this 67 year old local folk as one affected as I am trying to help people enjoy the Park and maybe earn a little extra money to help pay for the mushrooming medical and energy costs and more we are all facing given the unbridled spending and borrowing so fondly embraced in D.C. The Federal Government is way over extending its reach into seemingly any and all aspects of our lives... in my humble opinion.

Now I've got to put stream searching on hold for a bit while doing some soul searching.

wisenber
03-07-2012, 07:23 PM
The whole thing is a money grab and moreover a power grab by the park officials.
A family of four going backpacking is presently free. Once the initial fees kick in, it will be close to 50 bucks for a long weekend. For a struggling family, that can be the difference between going and not going. When those parents opt to go somewhere else with there kids, that will be a generation that will grow up without exposure and appreciation to the park.
As Mr. Casada mentioned,backcountry use has been on the decline for nearly twenty years. This will only serve to further reduce the number of visitors choosing to visit the parts of the park that are seen less often. The ones that stay at the backcountry sites far from the nearest trailheads tend to be some of the park's biggest supporters and stewards. Theses fees that are targeted solely at them are a slap in the face to the very proponents of the park.

Having spent a few hundred nights in the park, I can attest that the purported problem of overcrowding and a poor reservation system is a false one. Most sites that are more than two miles from the nearest trailhead rarely has another occupant when I've been there on the weekends. During the week, seeing someone else a backcountry site has hardly ever happened for me.

After the improperly invoked public comment phase has resulted in the implementation of the fees despite opposition from the vast majority making comments, raising those fees will take even less effort. If four bucks seems reasonable to the park in 2013, why wouldn't ten bucks seem equally as reasonable? When public outcries or opinions don't matter, there's really no limit to this power/money grab.

While an angler can currently determine that the chores are caught up and the weather looks good before deciding to head out on a Friday after work to test his or her luck at some natives deep in the park, that decision will now be removed as the opportunity to drive up to a self-serve kiosk and fill out a permit at 8 PM will no longer exist. That angler will now have to go home and login to the reservation website and pull out a credit card to see if there are any openings the next night instead. So much for that early start from the campsite Saturday morning. Of course you could just roll the dice three weeks before and see if there haven't been any flash floods, bear closures or spring snow storms. You could always just skip the trip and let the park keep the money.

Further, the insinuation that these fees will fund a reservation center, more hours of operation AND two more rangers is beyond insulting. To suggest that two more seasonal rangers can impact 798 miles of marked trails on a significant basis is absurd.

This whole thing really casts an unflattering light on the management of the park and the park itself. The contrast of that light makes areas like Citico, Bald River Gorge and Slickrock and others with fewer restrictions and no fees look that much more attractive. The park can then become a museum to be visited by tubers,dayhikers and roadside anglers. After that, you can just buy a book if you want to know what it was once like to visit the park and experience all that it once offered.

Dancing Bear
03-07-2012, 09:45 PM
If I said what my opinion of [the Park Service] is I would be banned from this forum, but I did scrape something like it off of my shoe after I fed the dogs this morning.

Speck Lover
03-07-2012, 09:52 PM
I found the following article that was posted on February 21, 2012 by Bob Berwyn on the Summit County Citizens Voice. http://summitcountyvoice.com/2012/02/21/forest-service-recreation-fees-take-another-legal-hit/

Maybe there is a glimmer of hope after all.

By Summit Voice


SUMMIT COUNTY — The U.S. Forest Service can’t charge recreation fees for simple access to public lands, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously (http://www.scribd.com/doc/82260413/USFS-Fees-Court-Ruling) last week, rejecting the agency’s bid to include undeveloped areas in the fee program.


The San Francisco-based Appeals Court found the U.S. Forest Service at fault for charging parking fees to people who go for a hike without using amenities such as picnic tables, trashcans and bathrooms located nearby, or who camp in dispersed, undeveloped parts of a National Forest.
If the ruling stands, it will be binding in nine western states and sets a nationwide legal precedent. The ruling doesn’t cover Colorado, but the fee program at Mt. Evans is currently being challenged in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals — which does cover Colorado, and the recent ruling out of San Francisco could be a factor in that case.


Even before the ruling, the Forest Service was reviewing fee sites for compliance with the law, with a top-level panel recommending that some sites be removed from the program.


At issue is the agency’s Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, designed to help fill holes in the Forest Service recreation budget. Under the program, the agency can charge fees for certain areas as long as specific amenities are provided.


Initially, the Forest Service tried to include a wide range of areas under the program, for example charging fees to everyone who enters large recreation areas, even if those people don’t actually use the developed sites.
Several groups, first and foremost the Western Slope No-Fee Coalition, challenged the way the agency interprets the law, and the appeals court agreed:


“The Forest Service fails to distinguish—as the statute does—between someone who glides into a paved parking space and sits at a picnic table enjoying a feast of caviar and champagne, and someone who parks on the side of the highway, sits on a pile of gravel, and eats an old baloney sandwich while the cars whizz by. The agency collects the same fee from both types of picnickers. That practice violates the statute’s plain text,” wroteJudge Robert Gettleman. “Everyone is entitled to enter national forests without paying a cent,” he said.


The case (Adams vs. U.S. Forest Service) was brought in 2008 by four hikers who visit the Coronado National Forest around Mt. Lemmon, near Tucson. A district court judge upheld the fees, giving the agency deference under the Administrative Procedures Act.


But the appeals court overturned that ruling, finding that the law doesn’t require a deferential decision, according to attorney Mary Ellen Barilotti, of Hood River, Oregon, who has been involved in numerous fee-related court battles.


The court found the Forest Service at fault for charging parking fees to people who go for a hike without using amenities such as picnic tables, trashcans and bathrooms located nearby, or who camp in dispersed, undeveloped parts of a National Forest.


Forest access fees began in 1996 under the Fee Demo program. They include the Adventure Pass, which covers much of the four National Forests in southern California, the Northwest Forest Pass, required at hundreds of trailheads in Oregon and Washington, the Red Rocks Pass at Sedona, Arizona, American Fork Canyon near Provo, Utah, Mt Evans Scenic Byway in Colorado, and dozens of other forest fee programs around the nation.
In 2004, Fee Demo was replaced by the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act enacted by Congress for ten years. The FLREA clearly prohibited fees solely for parking and hiking, but the U.S. Forest Service continued operating fee programs around the country that did just that.
“Millions of Americans will once again be free to go for a walk in their national forests, which they jointly own and which have been maintained by their tax dollars for over a century, without being ticketed by Forest Service staff,” said Western Slope No-Fee Coalition president Kitty Benzar.
The Forest Service is studying the ruling, and has 60 days to request a rehearing.

Dancing Bear
03-08-2012, 07:54 AM
I would like to apologize for the crudeness of my previous post. Although that is my opinion I shouldn't have stated it in such a way here. I lay the blame entirely on several ounces of Jameson Irish.

Mike W.

Rog 1
03-08-2012, 10:17 AM
I think that if you are going to blame your criticism..albeit legitimate..of a problem that is local in nature on a taste you should at least buy American and support the local economy.

NDuncan
03-08-2012, 11:31 AM
Unfortunately, I don't think the precedent regarding undeveloped areas in the public lands/national forests applies. This is a national park we are talking about, which is not regulated by the national forest service, but by the national parks service. Other national parks have been charging fees for years for all sorts of camping and entrance to the undeveloped areas within those parks. The only bright side is that the precedent has been laid to prevent similar charges within the primitive areas of the Cherokee, Nantahala, Pigsah, etc...

flyman
03-08-2012, 11:32 AM
Again:frown: I'm disappointed in the response by government officials in spite of the overwhelming opposition to this proposal. $4, it will probably cost more to implement and regulate the program than it will make. I'm not entirely sure that blame should be placed on the current park superintendent and administration. I think this mandate may have come from much higher up the line.

mattblick
03-08-2012, 12:15 PM
When backpacking this weekend, I had my permit checked by a ranger at 8:30 AM on Saturday morning - the first time in 20 years backpacking the park.

I asked the ranger if this increased presence had anything to do with the proposed fee changes. The ranger really didn't answer. I then asked him about the park going through after the unanimous negative response, and the ranger commented on "a lot of spoiled people".

Jim Casada
03-08-2012, 01:59 PM
NDuncan--You are not entirely correct on your statement about other national parks. While a number do have entrance fees (the GSMNP is forbidden to charge those by law), there is not another national park in the entire county where you MUST pay a camping fee for the backcountry. Some do have reservation systems which guarantee those who pay a spot, but if you apply in the last 24-48 hours and there are openings, you can camp free. Adam Beal (Crockett on this forum) has done some excellent research on this and maybe he will post his findings.

The idea that Western parks charge so the Smokies should too is a false flag. As for the national forests, I've heard differing opinions on that one and certainly I'm no legal beagle. Overall though, this fee thing, forced in the face of overwhelming opposition based on flat-out false information (call it dissembling, disingenuous, fabrications, falsehoods, or the simplest term, lies--it is conscious use by Park leaders of untruths). I'll give two examples, but there are many more, as those who have actively resisted this have discovered.I mentioned the misinformation about overcrowded backcountry in a previous post (the Park's own information proved it lied on that one). [Park Service personnel] also repeatedly alluded to a great number of complaints about the backcountry. Guess what? A Freedom of Information request proved that to be another falsehood. In the last three years there have been precisely 15 total complaints, and if you examine them individually less than half of those could in any way be construed as complaints about backcountry campers.
The bottom line is that [the Park Service] has arrogantly done what [it] wishes. I'll continue to support Steve and Matt and the fisheries program, but otherwise the Park has seen the last donated dollar from me, the last book purchased at Park stores, the last bid in a Friends auction, and the last effort of any kind to offer support. I don't and never have taken kindly to folks who consciously force things down the public's throats, and that is doubly true for situations involving falsehoods.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

P. S. I've been connected with the Park in one way or another literally all my life and nothing in all my years has made me anywhere near as upset as this.

Crockett
03-08-2012, 04:21 PM
This is copied from WBIR.com posted by long time Smokies blogger Al Smith:

This fee will make the Smokies one of the ONLY major national parks that charge a fee for backcountry camping. In the park's proposal for this online fee/reservation system, they had stated that "most other parks with similar backcountry operations charge between $10 and $30 per reservation." That is just a bald-faced misstatement. Here are the facts excerpted from our original comment to the park service regarding these changes:

Only two parks similar to ours charge any kind of a fee for advance reservations and both of those offer free reservations for walk-ins. All four parks similar to ours in the continental U.S. offer free permits for backcountry camping. Here are the four specific examples of parks we believe to have "similar" backcountry operations as the Smokies:
a. Glacier NP. 700+ miles of trails. Reservation fee: None. Permit fee: None
b. Yellowstone NP. 1100 miles of trails! Reservation fee: $20 for reservations 48 hours or more in advance. Walk-in reservations (within 48 hours of trip start) are FREE. Permit fee: None.
c. Yosemite NP. 750 miles of trails. Reservation fee: $5 plus $5/person for advance reservations. No charge for changes. Walk-in reservations: FREE (for trips beginning up to one day prior to the wilderness (backcountry) trip). Permit fee: None.
d. Shenandoah NP. 500+ miles of trails. Reservations not required. Permit fee: None

NDuncan
03-08-2012, 04:56 PM
I think there is an inherit danger in copy and pasting info from other sources.

My comment was about the implications of a court case regarding a forest service run tract of land not applying to national parks (run by a different agency, with different authority, and laws, etc).

Adam, Jim, anyone else, my statement about fees was based on info from a friend of mine who works for a commercial guide service inside Glacier National Park. He told me that there is a permit, regardless of reservation.

So I looked it up myself. There is. Anyone $16 and over it is $5 per night, between 8-15 $2.50, and under 7, free. Getting a reservation will cost you $30 (processing fee, the reservation is technically free, but won't be processed without paying the $30). Now here is the hitch - these fees are only during certain months (June-Sept) the rest of the year, there is no cost.

anyone interested can look it up for themselves: http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/upload/Backcountry-Guide.pdf page 5.

I'm not going to look up every single park, but imagine others have permit fees too, and probably most do not.

My point is not that I support this in any way shape or form... I don't. In fact I'm not even happy that they can have a rule to only allow camping in specific designated areas. I'm actually quite pissed about the whole thing and signed every petition opposing it.

I was simply throwing in that the the park service already has legal precedent for doing this sort of thing elsewhere and as such a legal challenge based on something done in the national forest system will probably not hold up in court.

Again, not saying they should do this, just saying that they have elsewhere and so they probably will get away with it here.

Grannyknot
03-08-2012, 05:11 PM
This is copied from WBIR.com posted by long time Smokies blogger Al Smith:

This fee will make the Smokies one of the ONLY major national parks that charge a fee for backcountry camping. In the park's proposal for this online fee/reservation system, they had stated that "most other parks with similar backcountry operations charge between $10 and $30 per reservation." That is just a bald-faced misstatement. Here are the facts excerpted from our original comment to the park service regarding these changes:

Only two parks similar to ours charge any kind of a fee for advance reservations and both of those offer free reservations for walk-ins. All four parks similar to ours in the continental U.S. offer free permits for backcountry camping. Here are the four specific examples of parks we believe to have "similar" backcountry operations as the Smokies:
a. Glacier NP. 700+ miles of trails. Reservation fee: None. Permit fee: None
b. Yellowstone NP. 1100 miles of trails! Reservation fee: $20 for reservations 48 hours or more in advance. Walk-in reservations (within 48 hours of trip start) are FREE. Permit fee: None.
c. Yosemite NP. 750 miles of trails. Reservation fee: $5 plus $5/person for advance reservations. No charge for changes. Walk-in reservations: FREE (for trips beginning up to one day prior to the wilderness (backcountry) trip). Permit fee: None.
d. Shenandoah NP. 500+ miles of trails. Reservations not required. Permit fee: None

Crockett,
maybe I am just mis-reading this, but I can't see this as being entirely true. Possibly due to the loose interpretation of a "similar" backcountry operation. In 2006 I paid a park entrance fee & a backcountry permit fee at Zion NP. Also, Big South Fork has a backcountry permit system where a flat rate is charged. I will look when I get home if the Zion permit was a nightly charge, but I believe it was very similar to what the park has proposed. The Grand Canyon backcountry permit system uses the "$10 + $5 per person per day" pay structure. They also have a $25 annual frequent hiker pass that allows you to only pay the $5 per day fee on subsequent hikes for a year. I'm almost certain Glacier had a similar structure that the GC uses when my wife and I looked into a trip there (http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/upload/Backcountry-Guide.pdf see the bottom of page 1).

Note: I am adamantly against the park's intention of charging a fee for backcountry camping.

Cody

Edit....sorry to double post what NDuncan had already said.

Crockett
03-08-2012, 05:38 PM
I gotcha Nathan and Grannyknot point taken. I think Big South Fork has a yearly pass for $50 or it maybe that's the maximum cap. Even something like that would have be nice in the Smokies for people who backpack a lot. Ideas like that were presented to the park but were left out of the final Smokies proposal.

Mundele
03-08-2012, 08:00 PM
It's late to suggest this, but I wish they'd just charge $2 per car on the Cades Cove loop road. They'd make several times the amount they'll make charging $4 per night for backcountry campers, and maybe reduce "bear jams" too.

--Matt

Byron Begley
03-10-2012, 08:56 PM
I wish we would not use the names of friends of mine in these posts. Why not refer to the Park Service instead of individuals? You can make the same point without mentioning specific people that I find offensive. Is that too much to ask?

Byron

calebB
03-10-2012, 10:18 PM
Man, why can't we be charged by our impact!! I'd be happy to pay $4 per night if they would only start charging horse camper's $40! Horse traffic is very destructive to trails compared to foot traffic.

Most importantly, 100% of the revenue from this program will be invested in improving back-country services through extended hours of the back-country office, trip-planning assistance, on-line reservations, and protection of park resources through increased ranger staff. "

-I would rather wait on the line with the back country office, than pay $4.
-If a backcountry camper needs trip planning assistance, then they probably shouldn't be in the backcountry.
-NPS created their own need when it comes to implementing an online reservation system.
-I visit the backcountry to get away from everyone; increased nps ranger presence in the backcountry won't help.

PS- I wonder if they will charge an processing fee for online reservations?

Caleb

wisenber
03-10-2012, 10:33 PM
While the fees have been approved, they have not been enacted.
There is still time to contact your Representatives about this. This is especially true if you live in the 2nd District in Tennessee as Jimmy Duncan currently sits on the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands.

JoeFred
03-11-2012, 09:59 AM
I wish we would not use the names of friends of mine in these posts. Why not refer to the Park Service instead of individuals? You can make the same point without mentioning specific people that I find offensive. Is that too much to ask?

Byron

No, Byron. It is not at all too much to ask. Thanks!

JF

David Knapp
03-11-2012, 11:46 AM
While I am definitely opposed to backcountry fees in the Smokies, I would like to point out that other parks do charge fees, even for last minute reservations. In the last year, I have done backcountry trips in both the Grand Canyon and the Everglades. Both of these parks have a backcountry use fee. In the Everglades, you cannot even make reservations ahead of time. Instead you must drive (or fly, etc) across the country, showing up in person and hoping that your proposed route is not full. Each park has its downfalls and issues that are clearly not intended to be user friendly.

Obviously some of you have done some excellent research and lots of parks are free but to suggest that the Smokies will be unique or nearly so is not entirely accurate. Unfortunately, this is what our country is coming to. I'm sure other parks will implement fees sometime soon as well. Unpleasant yes but it is the sad reality of where things are headed... :frown:

g022271
03-11-2012, 12:10 PM
Caleb makes a point here about horse campers and what their horses do to the trails. If any of you haven't come upon a stretch of a trail that is pretty soggy and chopped to peices by horses, I'd be very surprised. There are always "detours" around these bogs that further causes damage. Also, horse campers from my past experiences tend to leave the most trash behind - especially Ragu jars in the firerings. $4 for thm would seem too small of a fee.

wisenber
03-11-2012, 09:16 PM
While I am definitely opposed to backcountry fees in the Smokies, I would like to point out that other parks do charge fees, even for last minute reservations. In the last year, I have done backcountry trips in both the Grand Canyon and the Everglades. Both of these parks have a backcountry use fee. In the Everglades, you cannot even make reservations ahead of time. Instead you must drive (or fly, etc) across the country, showing up in person and hoping that your proposed route is not full. Each park has its downfalls and issues that are clearly not intended to be user friendly.

Obviously some of you have done some excellent research and lots of parks are free but to suggest that the Smokies will be unique or nearly so is not entirely accurate. Unfortunately, this is what our country is coming to. I'm sure other parks will implement fees sometime soon as well. Unpleasant yes but it is the sad reality of where things are headed... :frown:

My particular issue is the way that the whole process has been conducted.

The notion that so many sites are full and that the current reservations system is inadequate to handle is false. Some sites do have heavier use, and those sites currently require reservations. Nearly 3/4 of the remaining sites currently require no reservations and have not had issues with overcrowding has not been a problem, and self-registration precludes any difficulty with contacting the reservations office.

The process was quite a bit out of order as well. A thirty day notice was not posted prior to a any public comment period. The two comment session were not comment session. Park staff, split the attendees into small groups and explained what was going to occur. Rather than soliciting or hearing any alternatives, the comment phase was merely viewed as formality.

The bottom line is that it is a money/power grab by implementing a solution looking for a problem. If this was about making a better experience for park visitors, it has failed before it has started. With 3/4 of the current sites not requiring reservations and having sparse usage, implementing a reservation system with fees can only serve to make the experience worse. I can drive up to any self-serve kiosk tonight and fill out a registration card and know that I won't have to worry about most of the back country sites having any crowding issues (even during Spring Break) all without a fee. Going forward, last minute registration won't be possible, and the backpacker will have to pay for the privilege. So how does it make anything better or improve the experience for the majority of backcountry campers? The answer is, it does neither.

Lastly, how much of this "new found money" will need to be spent enforcing the policies that generate the new income? How much of the remaining money will be needed to put the actual reservation system in place? This begs the next question of how much of the new revenue will be left to actually improve anything? A question local business owners might ask is "How many fewer visitors will come to the Park once fees are implemented?" To suggest that usage will not be impacted when something changes from free to pay for use would be disingenuous.

wisenber
03-11-2012, 09:20 PM
Caleb makes a point here about horse campers and what their horses do to the trails. If any of you haven't come upon a stretch of a trail that is pretty soggy and chopped to peices by horses, I'd be very surprised. There are always "detours" around these bogs that further causes damage. Also, horse campers from my past experiences tend to leave the most trash behind - especially Ragu jars in the firerings. $4 for thm would seem too small of a fee.

Pitting the "horse people" versus the "hikers" only serves to divide a single group that is in opposition to new fees into two weaker groups. I don't own a horse or use one, but I'd hate to see two potential allies split apart.

spotlight
03-12-2012, 08:48 PM
My particular issue is the way that the whole process has been conducted.

Very well said Walter, I won't share my thoughts on this matter because I can't do so "without finger pointing"

mattblick
04-10-2012, 10:26 AM
Interesting study on fees here:

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

Studies like these could have been brought up (and promptly ignored) had the NPS Personnel not "accidentally" messed up the notice on the hearings.

David Knapp
04-10-2012, 12:25 PM
A question local business owners might ask is "How many fewer visitors will come to the Park once fees are implemented?" To suggest that usage will not be impacted when something changes from free to pay for use would be disingenuous.

Unfortunately, on at least a small scale local business owners will be affected. I know that any fees will cut down on my trips to the Park, if for no other reason than that I'm not going to support what I see as a bad system. The result will be that the few dollars I spend in Townsend, Cherokee, and Bryson City will be even fewer. Stores like LRO will probably lose at least a few sales because of this, but hopefully not for their sake as it's not their fault the Park Service is short-sighted... I know a lot of my purchases at LRO are just because I'm passing through and happen to stop in. Not passing through = fewer purchases...

David Knapp
04-10-2012, 12:29 PM
Interesting study on fees here:

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

Studies like these could have been brought up (and promptly ignored) had the hearings not been "accidentally" messed up the notice on the hearings.

Unfortunately, I honestly think the goal is to reduce visitation. There is a small but vocal group within the NPS that would love to limit public access to OUR parks... Yes, it would have been great to bring up this study, but as you said it would have been promptly ignored.

Owl
04-25-2012, 03:53 AM
Keep in mind that the Park Service isn't the only place that has a vocal group calling for restrictions on the number of visitors to our wild places. In the past, groups like the Sierra Club have been associated with folks who called for just that - locked gates and forbidden use of public land.

IMHO, if they truly are "our Parks" they should be protected from over-use, but not to the extent that we consider locking people out.

That said, this minuscule fee for BC use isn't doing that at all. I'm not sure why there are some BC users that think they shouldn't have to pay because it's just "always been that way."

There was a time in the U.S. that we didn't have the IRS, too - but I doubt I could use that as an excuse today as to why I shouldn't pay my share. Ya feel me?

Grannyknot
04-25-2012, 08:27 AM
..... Ya feel me?

No not really.

People are questioning the decision because the reasons provided for the fee are not legitimate, and some believe that the fee revenues will be directed to other cost centers. Most of us have given this a little more thought than just the simpleton argument of "we shouldn't have to pay because it's just always been that way".

NDuncan
04-26-2012, 10:52 AM
Owl,

Here are the reasons why many people are opposed to this, and it is goes well beyond your simplistic outlook of people just being cheap.

1.) the NPS said in many of the communications to the public that the revenue generated would be directed to the hiring of two backcountry rangers. Information obtained from the park service regarding the development of this plan under the freedom of information act has revealed that this is a lie. It was never part of the plan, and the revenue generated is only expected to cover the cost of the reservation system. The two backcountry rangers we ALREADY going to be hired using private funds donated by the GSMA and Friends of the Smokys (Before this plan ever was revealed) so the two rangers would have been hired without even needing this fee system.

2.) The NPS likely bypassed their legal obligations and in some of their communications either flat our lied about the public response to the plan or at the very least twisted the words of others to fit their purposes

3.) The primary supporters of this plan (again from the comments received and obtained using the FIOA) are people who run commercial guided backpacking trips - ie they are charging clients anyway so it doesn;t impact them, it just gets more of the riff-raff out of the way so they can take more clients on guided trips

4.) Where does this sort of thing stop? Now there are many rumors about a plan developing to ban off trail travel. A lot of people say this a good thing because of how many people get lost and the rescue operations. Think how many streams are not covered by official trails and what fishing access would now be illegal if they do this? Sam's creek would be out. How much donation money and volunteer time went into that restoration project? It's not covered by an officially sanctioned trail. Neither are countless other feeders and streams than people visit and fish on a daily basis without incident.

This more than just people being cheap. It's an erosion of freedom and catering to an elite small few (rich paying backpackers who need a guide to sleep outside without fear) at the expense of the local population who do more for the park than the park will acknowledge.

Ya feel me?

duckypaddler
04-26-2012, 11:47 AM
Owl,

Here are the reasons why many people are opposed to this, and it is goes well beyond your simplistic outlook of people just being cheap.

1.) the NPS said in many of the communications to the public that the revenue generated would be directed to the hiring of two backcountry rangers. Information obtained from the park service regarding the development of this plan under the freedom of information act has revealed that this is a lie. It was never part of the plan, and the revenue generated is only expected to cover the cost of the reservation system. The two backcountry rangers we ALREADY going to be hired using private funds donated by the GSMA and Friends of the Smokys (Before this plan ever was revealed) so the two rangers would have been hired without even needing this fee system.

2.) The NPS likely bypassed their legal obligations and in some of their communications either flat our lied about the public response to the plan or at the very least twisted the words of others to fit their purposes

3.) The primary supporters of this plan (again from the comments received and obtained using the FIOA) are people who run commercial guided backpacking trips - ie they are charging clients anyway so it doesn;t impact them, it just gets more of the riff-raff out of the way so they can take more clients on guided trips

4.) Where does this sort of thing stop? Now there are many rumors about a plan developing to ban off trail travel. A lot of people say this a good thing because of how many people get lost and the rescue operations. Think how many streams are not covered by official trails and what fishing access would now be illegal if they do this? Sam's creek would be out. How much donation money and volunteer time went into that restoration project? It's not covered by an officially sanctioned trail. Neither are countless other feeders and streams than people visit and fish on a daily basis without incident.

This more than just people being cheap. It's an erosion of freedom and catering to an elite small few (rich paying backpackers who need a guide to sleep outside without fear) at the expense of the local population who do more for the park than the park will acknowledge.

Ya feel me?


Nicely said:biggrin:

GrouseMan77
04-26-2012, 12:01 PM
Nicely said:biggrin:

Agree, very well stated.

Knothead
04-27-2012, 08:27 AM
A lot of people say this a good thing because of how many people get lost and the rescue operations.
Lost people should reimburse the park of expenses incurred.

David Knapp
04-27-2012, 07:41 PM
Lost people should reimburse the park of expenses incurred.

I know right!?! If only there was a system to do so...I would support any rule like that for sure. If people would just take responsibility for their actions, it would fix a lot of problems in our country...

JoeFred
04-29-2012, 04:12 PM
Owl,
...The two backcountry rangers we(re) ALREADY going to be hired using private funds donated by the GSMA and Friends of the Smokys (Before this plan ever was revealed)....


http://smokiesinformation.org/about-the-great-smoky-mountains/2012-gsma-budget/

http://www.friendsofthesmokies.org/needs.html (page 5)