Originally Posted by Jim Casada
Trip--While that approach is used in many parks, it won't happen in the Smokies. Part of the agreement when the Park was created (and unlike many out West it involved a great deal of land seizure) was that it would always be free to the people. Trying to change that would create a huge firestorm, and it is worth noting that thousands of mountain people, during an extraordinarily rough time in our country's economic history, donated pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters to help make the Park a reality. Their donation, of course, is dwarfed by the sacrifice made by people who actually lived in the Park.
Don't get me wrong, it's creation was a wonderful development, one from which everyone on this forum benefits. But as someone with roots in the area (my father grew up in the Park), I also know just how deeply the sense of injustice runs. Anyone who doubts this needs to read Hattie Caldwell Davis's writings on Cataloochee. There was literally wailing and gnashing of teeth when a preacher, trying to stave off a flat-out rebellion against the government, told folks they would have to leave all they loved, cherished, and had worked for over the generations.
So your proposal, while seemingly a logical one on the surface, would fly directly in the face of history and government promises.
Of course, cynic that I undoubtedly am, I would note that the government has broken promises before.
I knew of the history of people chipping in to get the park created, I thought The National Parks: America's Best Idea did a decent job of showing how much the surrounding area contributed to getting the park created.
I also can understand the sense of injustice. As a TVA employee and I am not unaware of the issues we caused when did the same. That's why I don't mention who I am employed by in some areas of rural Tennessee, LOL.
Hopefully the Smokies are not in the same financial situation as a lot of other small parks. I know California was actually considering shutting down some of theirs. For the amount of people and tourist traps that greatly benefit from this park, it's a shame the place is having any funding issues whatsoever.