jeffnles1--While I wouldn't mind paying an annual fee, even up to $50 or so, rest assured it would be greeted with howls of protest from folks on both sides of the Park. Their argument would be (and it would have considerable validity) that they were promised free use of and access to the Park in perpetuity.
Another side of this issue, and it goes to poaching as well as other matters, is the pervasive feeling, especially on the N. C. side of the Park, that Park bureaucrats have consistently failed to live up to their promises. There's more than a little truth in that, and a key example comes with maintenance of and access to cemeteries. While the North Shore Road agreement never mentioned cemeteries, both TVA and the Park assured folks that loved ones buried in the Park would be properly remembered and respected. Yet in recent years in particular the Park has done anything but a stellar job in getting people to the more remote sites (huge problems on Hazel Creek, for example). They also do not maintain sites very well, IMO.
Just last week I walked up to the Mingus Cemetery as I returned to my truck after an evening's fishing on Luftee. It was badly in need of weeding, mowing, and a general clean up (and this is a site that is very easily accessible). The last time I visited it the cemetery which lies just a bit downstream from the Bone Valley campsite on Hazel Creek was a mess. Sam Macdonald, a regular visitor to this forum, may be able to offer more insight. He probably knows more about graves in the Park than anyone.
My point is simply this. A certain portion of locals feel a lingering sense of grievance in connection with the Park. It doesn't in any way justify poaching (and that involves far more than using bait to catch trout and keeping too many trout; namely, game and things like "sang"), but it does give n'er do wells a sort of backdoor justification for shameful behavior. In other words, not only through neglect connected with lack of funding but through outright failure to do what has promised, the Park is sometimes its own worst enemy.
To be sure, there's reason aplenty to expect folks to do their share to look after the graves of their ancestors, but even if fully willing there's the issue of access. Maybe the great poet of the Yukon, Rovert Service, put it best in a rew words: "A promise made is a debt unpaid." The Park has log had unpaid debts.
I don't know whether this will make sense to many of you, but the lingering sense of being wronged is very real in small communities on the edge of the Park as well as with some descendants of those who were forcibly removed. Incidentally, my father, who will celebrate his 101st birthday this weekend, does not feel at all aggrieved. He thinks the Park was a great blessing, although he also feels that Park officials have often created public relations nightmares for themselves.