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Thread: Proposal to CHARGE FEES for all Backcountry sites in GSMNP

  1. #11
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    Jan 2009
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    Maryville, TN
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    740

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    There is a big difference between Elkmont and a backcountry site. People pay at Elkmont because there are bathroom facilities, concessions, and most of all you can just drive up and park and don't have to walk 5 miles up 2000 feet in elevation to pitch a tent on some roots somewhere. I am ok with a nominal fee too but it should be much less than they charge for something like a spot at Elkmont for sure. Although I have the feeling if this goes through without people seeming to care too much a nice big raise in the front country rates probably won't be too far behind.
    Last edited by Crockett; 07-30-2011 at 12:27 AM.

  2. #12
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    Oct 2008
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    Knoxville, Tennessee
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    Quote Originally Posted by fearnofishbob View Post
    Admisson to the Park make even more sense.......The revenue hopefully would be put to good use !
    I love the fact that the park is free I am very thankful for the generations before me that worked hard to make this park happen.

    While I am all for making all backcountry spots reservation only to cut down on over-use and crowding, and would not be opposed to a nominal fee, it would most likely be silly and counter-productive financial wise. For example at the Cheoah Whitewater releases the Forrest Service makes you buy a $3 wristband. On a good day you'll have a hundred paddlers, and they have at least 3 guys on overtime to enforce this which I know must cost far beyond the $300 they collect

    I applaud the Park for trying to solve the problems in the backcountry, and are looking for a way to cut down on paperwork so that the limited backcountry staff can help others with trip planning. I just hope they can do it without charging an arm and a leg for backcountry. Maybe a solution would be a higher charge at the 10% of sites that cause all the problems, and leave the 90% of little used sites free. I hope I can make one of the meetings

  3. #13
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    Jan 2006
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    Greeneville, TN
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    Duckypaddler,

    Good point on the "real cost" benefits that may apply depending on which plan they go with for the backcountry sites. Myself, I think ten dollars a person is too steep for a BC site. $4 seems a little low, especially if they are stepping up enforcement, etc. Someone in between ($6) would be a reasonable fee. Personally, while I know they need to have more of a presence at the highly utilized sites, I don't really need some gung-ho rangers crawling up my butt while I am trying to get away from it all. It's bad enough to put up with their attitudes at Elkmont, etc. I have started going to the NC side more as a result, more laid back on that side of the mountains, and they don't look at you like you're a scoundrel for no good reason.

    Neal

  4. #14
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    Jun 2010
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    Knoxville, Tn
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    I have a couple of thoughts on this feel free to agree/disagree as you see fit:

    1.) The park was created out of families homesteads to a great extent, and many of these families had been there for generations. Part of their compensation for giving up (whether by choice or force) the lands that had been part of their families heritage for generations is that the government would never charge a fee for access to these lands. That is a promise that must be kept. Think about what TVA did in Tellico Village... Took farms away from families who had been there for years, and then didn't use the land for what they claimed they would when they took by eminent domain, and they sold it developers. The Army corps engineers did the same thing in PA with a proposed dam that never got built - families uprooted and then the land turned over to developers. I know it is not exactly the same thing, but the government needs to be held accountable and held to their promises.

    2.) They are promising two back country rangers with the increased revenue. How often does the government ask for a 'small fee' to offset they cost of some common good ... like schools, roads, etc and then the money doesn't end up going where they promised... Think wheel tax in Knox county.

    3.) Where is the line? Next are we going to charge a fee to hike the trails? Day hikers and day users of the park contribute much more to the problem than back country campers. People throw trsh out of their car windows, so how about a fee for driving a car through the park. Horse use causes damage to trails that require work to regrade and fix to mitigate erosion, so we need a fee for taking a horse into the park. People that float down the river in tubes also leave trash and things behind, so there needs to a water use fee. How about a fee for using the park for commercial purposes - tubing companies, guided hikes, guided fishing and camping trips? These people make money off a free resource, maybe some time in the future the NPS will decide that they need to pay their fair share. No matter what fee they come up with, they will have have more things that they need money more and never enough money to do it, so I don't think that supposed benefits of this proposal come close to the cost - both financially and morally.


    4.) There are enough responsibly minded people in the backcountry that why couldn't most of what they want to do be done on a volunteer basis? Who wouldn't volunteer to take some sort of training/orientation from a head ranger and get certified to do some sort of back country enforcement. How many time shave you gone out to back country site and seen it trashed? Did you clean it up? You weren't there to see the people trash it, and even with two rangers dedicated to 104 backcountry sites and shelters, if you are lucky, each site will get visited by a backcountry ranger what, once a month, if that. How much difference will that actually make? Why not give private, trained citizen volunteers the authority to check permits, take ID info, report infractions to a enforcement ranger who could write citations and mail them to offenders? The volunteers would provide a written account, photographs, etc. Or even if enforcement is not the push, how about "back country angels" people who photograph the sites they visit, report on trash, food, bear activity, or whatever is wrong or good about the site, and clean the site up as best they can and then have some sort of system in place where we can report our experiences directly to the park service (maybe a webpage or something) and have the reports posted online on the park's webpage to raise awareness.


    I think that one important thing to consider, just throwing more money at a problem won't make it go away. It seems like a small fee, for people who don't regularly use back country, but to people that do, the cost of doing lots of trips will add up fast. And a number of those of us that use it frequently are the type of people who cherish the park and clean up the trash left behind by the reckless ones. If it becomes expensive to get away to the park, you may find more and more campsites that have bear problems, trash problems etc, because the people who have been leaving the place better than they found it are now spending their time in the back country of the national forest instead.

  5. #15
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    Feb 2008
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    We pay enough in taxes to take care of the park.

  6. #16
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    Apr 2009
    Location
    SE Tennessee
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    Default Park fees

    NDuncan was thinking what I was thinking. The GSMNP is not to charge a fee. However, how many stop at the donation boxes in Cades Cove and drop in a few bucks? Or donate to the Friends of the Smokies? I intend to do the latter as my family loves the GSMNP for its history, fishing, wildlife viewing, and the natural beauty. Just think what will happen if and when we face bidget cuts in the future.
    Watch the news as it seems there is an end to the budget issue for now.

  7. #17
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    Jan 2006
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    Tallahassee, Florida
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    If they put somebody to police the backcountry sites they are going to have to have enforcement authority....not someone like the campground volunteers. While there majority of people I have met in the 50+ years of camping and fishing in the Park are responsible, sensible people there have been some crazies that I believe a full uniformed ranger would have been needed to convince them they were in the wrong. I can remember being checked for creel limits and permits....both camping and fishing....years ago....but these rangers apparently were called down from the mountains to do traffic duty where the majority of the visitors are found. Since no state resources are spent in the park I don't see why a park fishing permit couldn't take the place of either a NC or Tn license and the proceeds be used to help in this area....

  8. #18
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    Apr 2010
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    I take my 3 boys (8,6 and 4 years old) out camping in the backcountry a pretty good bit(just got back from Pretty Hollow this weekend). So far 8 nights this year, with probably 4 more to go. Based on this proposal, I could be looking at $12 to as much as $30 per overnighter. With just what Ive done so far this year that could be as much as $240 in camping fees, and you can bet we wouldnt be able to go as much. Its hard to get out and do things with a group of kids. We dont go to the movies, or arcade, or amusement park, instead we go camping and hiking and fishing, salamander hunting, stargazing, and berry picking.

    Maybe like a fishing license, they don't charge for kids 16 and under? I think we can all agree that it is harder and harder to get kids involved in the outdoors, and as we continue to lose kids interest in the outdoors, we are losing future adults interest in the outdoors (which means future revenue!). If we can keep the costs amenable to families and children then the fee burden will be less likely to push future generations out of the woods.

  9. #19
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    Jun 2011
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    Nashville, TN
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    Quote Originally Posted by pineman19 View Post
    It's bad enough to put up with their attitudes at Elkmont, etc.
    +1

    I will tell you what, they sure do like passing out fines for everything... you can even get one for looking at them the wrong way.

    Just doing their jobs, I know...

    Tight Lines,

  10. #20
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    Feb 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by JayB View Post
    I take my 3 boys (8,6 and 4 years old) out camping in the backcountry a pretty good bit(just got back from Pretty Hollow this weekend). So far 8 nights this year, with probably 4 more to go. Based on this proposal, I could be looking at $12 to as much as $30 per overnighter. With just what Ive done so far this year that could be as much as $240 in camping fees, and you can bet we wouldnt be able to go as much. Its hard to get out and do things with a group of kids. We dont go to the movies, or arcade, or amusement park, instead we go camping and hiking and fishing, salamander hunting, stargazing, and berry picking.

    Maybe like a fishing license, they don't charge for kids 16 and under? I think we can all agree that it is harder and harder to get kids involved in the outdoors, and as we continue to lose kids interest in the outdoors, we are losing future adults interest in the outdoors (which means future revenue!). If we can keep the costs amenable to families and children then the fee burden will be less likely to push future generations out of the woods.
    I think that our national parks should all be free. We were the first nation in history to have national parks and they are the jewels in our crown. I hate to think of people not being able to enjoy them because of money.

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