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View Full Version : Sad Day is finally approaching


duckypaddler
01-23-2013, 09:20 AM
Press release is somewhat vague. Says system goes into effect on Feb 13 (should have been 14th for this "sweetheart deal"), yet system isn't up to make a reservation up to 30 days in advance. Glad I got the kids out on an overnighter before this happened so at least I can say they went when it was still free. I was really hoping that there would be a yearly fee, or some conseccion for the frequent user, but it looks like that is also a big NO.





Release Date: Immediate

Contact: Dana Soehn, Dana_Soehn@nps.gov (wlmailhtml:{16DA47B0-82EE-4369-A0CC-B1ED574E3AAA}mid://00000036/!x-usc:mailto:Dana_Soehn@nps.gov)

Phone number: 865-436-1207

Date: January 22, 2013


Park Announces Implementation of Backcountry Changes


Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced today that changes to its current backcountry reservation and permitting process will take effect on February 13, 2013. As reported last March, the National Park Service approved the Park�s proposal to begin collecting fees for use of the Park�s backcountry campsites and shelters. The changes include a $4 per person, per night fee for backcountry camping. The fee will be used to provide increased customer service for backcountry trip planning, reservations, permits and the backcountry experience.


A park-specific reservation and permit system, to which users will have 24/7 access, will allow backcountry campers to make reservations and obtain permits online from anywhere internet access is available. Reservations may be made at any time up to 30 days in advance, allowing maximum flexibility for those making last minute plans. Backcountry users will no longer be required to call the Backcountry Office to obtain reservations. Reservation and permit requests will also be accepted in person at the Backcountry Office, which is located at the Sugarlands Visitor Center.


Backcountry Office hours will be expanded with additional staff available to provide trip planning assistance both over the phone and in person. In addition, the Park will 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.
For more information about the changes, please visit the Park�s website at www.nps.gov/grsm (wlmailhtml:{16DA47B0-82EE-4369-A0CC-B1ED574E3AAA}mid://00000036/!x-usc:http://www.nps.gov/grsm) and follow the Management link on the left side of the page or call the Park�s Public Information Office at 865-436-1207. For general backcountry information or backcountry reservations, call the Backcountry Office at 865-436-1297. On February 13, backcountry reservations and permits will be available at www.smokiespermits.nps.gov (wlmailhtml:{16DA47B0-82EE-4369-A0CC-B1ED574E3AAA}mid://00000036/!x-usc:http://www.smokiespermits.nps.gov/).




Molly Schroer
Public Affairs Office
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
(865) 436-1203 office
(865) 210-1983 cell
(865) 436-1204 (fax)

NDuncan
01-23-2013, 11:46 AM
To all the people who believed the bs line about increased enforcement notice they don't even try to hide behind that anymore.

I wonder what the fine is for camping without a reservation...

Don Kirk
01-23-2013, 12:12 PM
Over the years I have dealt with the NPS on everything from closing off Walnut Bottoms and then closing off access to the Abrams Falls Trail parking area on Saturday morning to vehicle access (except bicycles), to the introduction of coyoteXgray wolf hybrids (the so-called “red wolves). I have never seen them budge an inch on anything. They are embedded in the system as steadfastly as privy dwelling rodents.
Actually, I believe it could be worse, and is likely to become so. They could have tacked on a $20 fee instead of just $4. They also are not demanding you carry out your droppings, which I am sure they have discussed. Lugged soled hiking boots are still permitted…for now. Bureaucrats are the least creative branch of humanity, the lone exception being when they are attempting to wax their authority at the expense of the people coughing up their salaries. It could be worse….
Oh well, I leave Friday for the Kentuckiana Fly Fishing Show in Louisville where I am giving a seminar on fly fishing in the GSMNP. Between the highway washing out and the backcountry permits, it should be a lively time. If you need to see me there, I can be reached at the Bourbon Room of the Brown Hotel—just look for the haze of cigar smoke.

whitefeather
01-23-2013, 01:24 PM
"A slice at a time." in action. With the current conscription of control freak, tax everything politicians in our government, IMO, it's only a matter of time before they devise a way to abolish or water down the agreement that no fee will ever be charged to enter the park. For those who say "no way", the agreement for the completion of the "road to nowhere" is an example. They simple drew on the environmental issue to do it. The set up for charging fees to enter the park is in place. There simply is no logic to be found in the thoughts of these people, only $ signs and control. They are a government within the government, which doesn't answer to the people they claim to serve.

BlueRaiderFan
01-23-2013, 02:03 PM
Hmm...I wonder if this is approaching law suit territory? It seems like the park is no longer free at this point. I mean, they are asking to be paid for something that they don't really provide a service for.

David Knapp
01-23-2013, 02:27 PM
This, together with limiting fishing access below middle TN dams, is disgusting. Guess its time to purchase some ultralight backpacking gear (hammock system) and figure out how to camp off trail. :rolleyes:

In all seriousness, as much as I wish that something could be done to undue the damages, once NPS, NFS, and the BLM get a taste of new sources of revenue, the only direction is increasing fees or adding more. For those of you who are concerned, it is only a matter of time before the FS does something similar to increase revenue on the Cherokee N and S units.

I sincerely wish that someone with the money and guts would challenge this legally although I doubt it will do any good. Perhaps a temporary injunction (is that the right word?) could at least be obtained to delay the implementation of the new system while the courts figured everything out.

Bran
01-23-2013, 03:12 PM
Yes, once government gets a taste of money there's blood in the water. It's only going up from there.

NDuncan
01-23-2013, 03:45 PM
Hmm...I wonder if this is approaching law suit territory? It seems like the park is no longer free at this point. I mean, they are asking to be paid for something that they don't really provide a service for.

Yes it is

http://www.southernforestwatch.org/

This group is planning such a suit and you can donate to help that effort

BlueRaiderFan
01-23-2013, 05:00 PM
Good stuff thanks for sharing. Is this group valid? Are they actually going to take action if they get the funding? Real action?

NDuncan
01-23-2013, 08:17 PM
Yeah they are Legit. They are responsible for getting the FOIL through so we finally got to see the NPS real plan with all this.

BlueRaiderFan
01-23-2013, 08:36 PM
Good to know that...I posted a link on my Facebook page. Hopefully it takes off.

JoeFred
01-23-2013, 09:59 PM
I leave Friday for the Kentuckiana Fly Fishing Show in Louisville where I am giving a seminar on fly fishing in the GSMNP. Between the highway washing out and the backcountry permits, it should be a lively time. If you need to see me there, I can be reached at the Bourbon Room of the Brown Hotel—just look for the haze of cigar smoke.

Don, I hope your seminar goes well. The "smokey haze" is a neat marketing angle.:smile: And don't forget to promote Ole Smoky Moonshine.;)

I had hoped to check out the show, but it didn't work out this time. It would be really interesting to know if the economy is making it tough for the good folks in KY, IN, OH, etc., to fish the park. In 2010, our products were selling well throughout the southeast US and the Ohio Valley area. KY and OH sales are way down, but not as much in other areas. Sales continue to be reasonably good in the Knoxville and north GA areas. Please let us know what is being said about any changes folks are having to make in terms of money for Smokies vacations, gas, fishing licences, etc, and... now... backcountry camping fees :frown:. Thanks, – JF

AL trout bum
01-24-2013, 12:58 PM
And don't forget to promote Ole Smoky Moonshine (http://www.olesmokymoonshine.com/).;)


Is this your venture?

jeffnles1
01-24-2013, 04:29 PM
JoeFred,
The economy here is not horrible. We're hit hard like the rest of the country is but I can pretty well say here in the Northern part of the state (south of Cincinnati) we probably fared a little better on average than a lot of areas in the country. That's not to say we're in great shape, just not as shaky as some areas I've seen and traveled through.

The fact I have a job is what's held me back the past 2 summers from doing much fishing in the mountains. I've been working 50-70 hours a week. Last year, I didn't even get to use up all my vacation days and had to "donate" a couple back to the company. Taking time off in the past couple summers has been impossible.

Not sure about the Louisville area but according to family down that way, I'm hearing it is about like around here.

Lexington area has held up pretty well from what I can see.

Can't make any comment about the South East or Western regions of the state.

Jeff

JoeFred
01-25-2013, 12:03 AM
Is this your venture?
Uhhh... nope.:smile: Although my people came from Cocke County, I am not a moonshiner, nor do I play one on TV. But I must confess to having not missed a single episode of “Moonshiners” season 2. Hopefully some jobs have come from the venture, but with no harm to those who will cross the path of the excessive partakers of the stuff.

The fact I have a job is what's held me back the past 2 summers from doing much fishing in the mountains. I've been working 50-70 hours a week. Last year, I didn't even get to use up all my vacation days and had to "donate" a couple back to the company. Taking time off in the past couple summers has been impossible.


Jeff, thanks for the feedback on your area. You really hit on a key point that I have shared with others numerous times, but inexcusably failed to mention in my post above. I suspect there are a growing number of folks like you that have to work more than on job to make it these days, which cuts into leisure time. With the precious few hours available to be at home, most anglers will want to be with family instead of on a stream, which, in my opinion, is a well placed priority. Hang in there. I believe better days await us.

– JF

Oldman
01-25-2013, 11:05 AM
I really dont think that you will be seeing any rangers more often than you do now or have seen in the past in the backcountry. The one good of the fees applied would be if you have to pay at the time of reservation. This would help keep out folks that reserve the site in case they want to go but then latter decide to go elsewhere or not at all. It happens as much as folks staying in a reserved site without reservations.

JoeFred
01-25-2013, 11:40 AM
I haven't seen the 2013 Great Smoky Mountains Association (GSMA) budget yet, but last year the non-profit organization funded putting “...two rangers and multiple special interns in the park’s backcountry.” The new personnel was to “enforce regulations, assist persons in distress, and educate hikers and horseback riders about low impact backcountry use.”

It will be interestng to see if the organization, of which I am a proud member, will need to subsidize the new fees program going forward. On its web site’s “GSMA Aid to the Park" page, it appears that this year GSMA plans to spend $28,000 for “2 Seasonal Backcountry Rangers” and about $5,000 for “Backcountry Support Intern.” In 2012, GSMA continued funding “staff for the park’s backcountry information and registration offices.”

buzzmcmanus
03-04-2013, 11:46 AM
It looks like a group has sued the National Park Service in opposition of the backcountry fees established.

http://www.wate.com/story/21453852/group-files-suit-over-backcountry-fees-in-the-smokies

jeffnles1
03-06-2013, 12:04 PM
Given the toxic climate in Washington these days and the Administration seeking the most visible and painful ways to cut the budgets, we're lucky the NPS didn't simply say "we don't have enough budget to employ resources necessary to ensure public safety; therefore, all back country areas are now closed."

pmike
03-06-2013, 03:16 PM
The fallacy of the "fees" has been in all that it was claimed they would provide in terms of "park support". It has been claimed that these fees would cure every ill related to the park, to the back country, etc....but all they do is supposedly cover the cost for the contractor to provide the reservation system. By the way a software design engineer had already offered to create and provide such a system for free to the "park service" and they rejected the offer. It really would appear that these fees are some sort of a trial balloon being floated to determine the climate and possibilty of floating others and lrager fees for admission or use of the "park". Much has been said and many accusations have been thrown at the folks who oppose these fees, but the facts speak for themselves. The info obtained by "Freedom of Information Act" requests is eye-opening to say the least and appaling as well. the information can be viewed in the media sections of "Got Smokies" and / or "Southern Forest Watch".

"www.southernforestwatch.com"


Mike

duckypaddler
03-06-2013, 04:04 PM
Given the toxic climate in Washington these days and the Administration seeking the most visible and painful ways to cut the budgets, we're lucky the NPS didn't simply say "we don't have enough budget to employ resources necessary to ensure public safety; therefore, all back country areas are now closed."

Jeff I'm dissappointed with your accessment:confused:

You seem like a resonable guy, and I tend to agree with you on many issues, but don't really think that "toxic climate in Washington" has anything to do with the backcountry fee. Furthermore the suggestion that we should be happy to swallow the fee beacause they could easily close the whole backcountry is absurd. The fee is wrong for a host of reasons that, and to most people it's not about the $4, but the many lies told and the fact that it solely goes to fund a system we didn't need in the first place. Also from a cost standpoint backcountry users account for only a fraction of park costs so why closing the backcountry would save serious money is beyond me. Now Closing Cades Cove and you might save some coin.

Don't mean to harp on you, and hopefully we can still be internet friends:rolleyes: If you want to get a bit more informed on the issue Adam (Crockett) had been one of the people leading the fight.Also been some informing post on GoSmokies, and of course on SFW.

Think of the family of 6 that now pays more for a backtcountry site than a front country:eek:

Crockett
03-06-2013, 04:20 PM
Hey pmike I am with you on this. I put in my first ever FOIA request on this issue. The park said they were inundated with complaints from citizens about the backcountry so I did a Freedom of Info Act request for all the complaints related to backcountry camping they had received in the past three years and here is what I got back:
https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B-VO2uGwTwvOOWo5SlJKWUlUb2VmX1hHWk1ibkJUUQ/edit?usp=sharing

There are 27 pages in this doc but only 15 total "complaints" over 3 years or about 5 complaints per year. Most of the complaints have nothing to do with backcountry camping. The reason it was 27 pages is most of it was several handwritten pages which look like casual trail maintainer reports from Morgan Briggs talking about water bars and horse damage and such. After I got this info the park never mentioned "numerous backcountry complaints" again and instead switched over to the mantra that the fee was going to pay for a "better reservation system" ie a fee to pay for collecting a fee.

Some further irony here Morgan Briggs happens to be against the fee (see this WBIR interview): http://www.wbir.com/news/article/180611/2/Backcountry-Campers-learn-more-about-new-proposed-fees


This is a case where some local folks dug deeper and clearly found the road to build the fees was surveyed by a wandering cow.

JoeFred
03-06-2013, 10:05 PM
The previous Park Trail map, BC-Map-july-11.pdf, has been replaced online at www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/upload/GSMNP-Map_OCT2012.pdf (http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/upload/GSMNP-Map_OCT2012.pdf)

To help out, I plan to contact someone at Park headquarters this week about what I see as needed changes. One being the questionable choice of backcountry campsites numbers (2, 4 & 6) for examples in the legend. As for 4, it must be gone.

NDuncan
03-06-2013, 11:39 PM
Oh campsite 4 is gone forever... It was too close to blackberry farms resident senator Lamar Alexander's house and thus we can't have the unwashed masses camping here. It's part of the cession of the northwest quadrant of the park to become the private atv course for the elite blackberry farms residents and high roller guests. It's no longer for use by the general public.

Thank god sfw included this in their lawsuit.

Some of us are more equal than others...

JoeFred
03-08-2013, 01:09 AM
Thanks for the info, NDuncan. Had I first taken time to properly research the site number being phased out, I wouldn't have been so glib in my remarks. I imagine Great Smoky Mountains Association has limited to no say on the technical aspects of maintaining the Park Trail Map. All Park Service maps and other media appear to be managed at the NPS Harpers Ferry Center (http://www.nps.gov/hfc/). Regardless, I contacted association leadership Wednesday just to provide a heads up. I started a new thread (http://littleriveroutfitters.com/forum/showthread.php?t=16712) about the changes being made to the map.

jeffnles1
03-20-2013, 03:36 PM
:DJeff I'm dissappointed with your accessment:confused:

You seem like a resonable guy, and I tend to agree with you on many issues, but don't really think that "toxic climate in Washington" has anything to do with the backcountry fee. Furthermore the suggestion that we should be happy to swallow the fee beacause they could easily close the whole backcountry is absurd. The fee is wrong for a host of reasons that, and to most people it's not about the $4, but the many lies told and the fact that it solely goes to fund a system we didn't need in the first place. Also from a cost standpoint backcountry users account for only a fraction of park costs so why closing the backcountry would save serious money is beyond me. Now Closing Cades Cove and you might save some coin.

Don't mean to harp on you, and hopefully we can still be internet friends:rolleyes: If you want to get a bit more informed on the issue Adam (Crockett) had been one of the people leading the fight.Also been some informing post on GoSmokies, and of course on SFW.

Think of the family of 6 that now pays more for a backtcountry site than a front country:eek:

Ducky,
I wasn't trying to say anyone should accept it. Far from what i was trying to say. I was trying to say we need to be vigilant to ensure the park stays open. Given the toxic atmosphere in Washington these days, the Administration is looking for ways to create pain so that one side can stab the other side in the back.

Look for more of these "visible" cuts like closing white house tours and closing campgrounds. It isn't about saving real money or elimination of waste, it is about politics.

Again, I was in no way advocating for the back country fee or saying anyone should be happy with it or accept it. Just stating that we should be happy the NPS didn't close the backcountry completely (and I would not be surprised to see them do just that in the future). again, not to save any real money but to create a toxic climate where one side can blame the other side for every bad thing that has happened since Eve took a bite of the fruit of the tree of knowledge to the current day.

No worries. No offence meant by me and none taken by me.

Jeff

Rob Johnson
03-22-2013, 01:16 AM
Don, sounds like your leg got better, ROB

JoeFred
03-22-2013, 08:42 AM
3/28 Update:

I discussed the issues with the revised Trail Map with two of the GSMA staff today at Sugarlands. They were very appreciative and plan to make some changes. It was a good meeting in a number of respects.
– JF