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duckypaddler 01-23-2013 09:20 AM

Sad Day is finally approaching
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,

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 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

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

Could be worse...
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


Originally Posted by BlueRaiderFan (Post 104690)
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

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.

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