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  #21  
Old 02-21-2012, 09:44 AM
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MadisonBoats MadisonBoats is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Casada View Post
You fellows have had some good-natured fun with this, but underlying it is a vein of seriousness. It is pretty clear to me that Dale Ditmanson intends to go through with the proposal for charging backcountry campers per night AND to register to camp. I've fought this ill-advised proposal from the get-go (as has Crockett of this forum and others), but there has been obfuscation, misinformation, and more coming out of Sugarlands on it. Never mind that the comments ran about 19 to 1 against the proposal and that it was based on a false premise from the outset (a statement that the backcountry is overcrowded, which is demonstrably false), every indication is that it will be implemented. This will be a big negative for backcountry anglers who camp, and I also fear it may be a "foot in the door" approach on other fees.
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Originally Posted by JoeFred View Post
Jim, your insight is 20-20. You read my intentions like a book. It concerns me that if asked which "works best for you?" 1) camp and fish the Smokies with your kids or 2) just keep them in the very latest video games and smart phone, and watch every episode of Inked (A&E) with them, most, I fear, would have to choose the latter.

As things are presently, if, at the new Oconaluftee Visitor Center, an earger-eyed young angler would ask about fishing, I'm not sure he/she would receive the enthusiastic response I feel would be deserved.

Now on a more practical note, perhaps Orvis or Bass Pro Shops, both with outlets in the foothills, could find a way to make the existing Fontana shuttles more affordable for the rest of us. I will have to defer to you, Crockett and others on continuing to fight the backcountry fees, etc., mess for us.... and thanks.
You guys should contact the news stations or papers and see if they want to do a story on this topic. I think they would go after it.
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  #22  
Old 02-21-2012, 10:00 AM
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Uhhhh... hmmm... maybe, Shawn. Interesting thought, but I'd first want to know what Byron and others in LR Chapter of TU would think of such publicity, taking all things into account... including consideration of current operators of services on the Lake, whom, like most of us, are probably just trying to "stay afloat" in this stiffling economy.

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  #23  
Old 02-21-2012, 12:27 PM
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Jim and JoeFred...thanks for the input. Jim, I always appreciate your thoughts on my posts...I am aware of the problems on the Alum bluff runoff and do all my fishing on Walker's Camp...and JoeFred I am well aware of them little fishes of which you speak...my point was that where there is fishable water it is hard to justify just walking next to such places and not fishing.
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  #24  
Old 02-21-2012, 03:37 PM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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Shawn--Actually they covered the whole brouhaha initially and Morgan Simmons of the Knoxville paper did a fine, fair piece a few months back, quoting me among others. Almost all the folks who have spoken out in favor of the fees are Park concessionaires or folks who admittedly don't actually camp in the back country. However, it appears someone got to the press. After some heated exchanges GoSmokies.com removed the whole subject from their blog (although a competing site, GotSmokies.com, covers it regularly) and other newspapers are completely disinterested. Two years ago I would have disputed the notion, but I now believe that the Sugarlands swashbucklers exercise quite a bit of influence on press coverage of controversial issues. The one significant exception has been in my home town, Bryson City, where the local weekly, the Smoky Mountain Times, has covered it in detail. Of course I write a column for the paper and brought the whole issue to the attention of the County Commission. They sent a formal, strongly worded letter of protest to Dale Ditmanson. To the best of my knowledge, he has not even replied.

I would also note that FOIA requests have been filed, met with resistance initially, but were answered after legal assistance came into the matter. More are in the offing. Adam Beal may want to add more, because he has fought this just as hard as I have. It has potential for a very real and direct impact of a negative sort on backcountry Park fishermen.
Jim Casada
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  #25  
Old 02-21-2012, 03:41 PM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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Rog 1--I totally agree. One of the real limiting factors in my knowledge of the Park has been the fact that almost all of my walking and wandering has been done with fishing first and foremost in mind. My brother, who is keen on bushwhacking and probably has spent about as much time and covered as many miles in the Park in the last three or four years, on the other hand, delves into pages from the past with a will and incredible energy. I just expend my energy on water.
Jim Casada
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  #26  
Old 02-21-2012, 04:23 PM
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Grannyknot Grannyknot is offline
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WBIR in Knoxville did a story on it several months ago when this all started.
http://www.wbir.com/news/local/story...storyid=180324

I firmly believe that the "public comments" are just a formality and that this is a done deal regardless of what is said or what data is brought forth. It's really a shame. The wrong user group is being targeted and tasked with funding a band-aid for the parks biggest drain on resources, which is auto-touring.

A bigger pitfall of this, in my opinion, is going to be the burden put on the surrounding national forests. Their facilities will not be able to handle the influx of users.
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  #27  
Old 02-21-2012, 05:13 PM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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Grannyknot--Your read on this is precisely the same as mine. The user group being targeted is a tiny percentage of the total Park visitors annually (around one percent) and they are probably among the most responsible, caring, and knowledgable of all Park visitors. I think the Park had a comment period solely because it was required. You are exactly right on automobile tourers being the main burden on resources, and I know for a fact that many locals, already economically hard pressed, will turn to national forests. The one thing I would add to your feelings is that I believe this is a "foot in the door" effort.Thanks for the WBIR line. I wasn't familiar with it.
Jim Casada
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  #28  
Old 02-21-2012, 05:20 PM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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Grannyknot--I read the report about the petition at the outfitter in Maryville. Someone is being untruthful here, and I don't think it is WBIR. Dale Ditmanson was quoted, just a few weeks back, saying that the total number of comments on the backcountry issue was 230. This mentions 500 folks signing this petition. Another one in which Adam Beal and yours truly were involved also garnered 500+ signatures in a very short time. The math doesn't work out and how Ditmanson could make such a statement is beyond me. Incidentally, one of the FOIA requests was for the comments. It took a lot of doing, including threats to charge thousands of dollars to obtain the information (that vanished when a backpacking lawyer interceded), and there was considerable dlay and obfuscation. When the comments were finally made available, a careful study of them, with the anonymous ones not being counted, reveal a ratio of about 19 to 1 against the fee proposal. It also revealed a whole lot more comments that Ditmanson had stated.
Simply put, this is bureaucratic misinformation, something I find despicable at any level. I've long been a friend of the Park, have donated to it in various ways, but I'm disgusted with the actions of leadership on this.
If you and others want one final disgusting part of this, the proposal is to farm the reservation system out to a non-U. S. company.
I don't think many fishermen are aware of this, but if you backpack, you will be affected.
Jim Casada
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  #29  
Old 02-21-2012, 07:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grannyknot View Post
...
A bigger pitfall of this, in my opinion, is going to be the burden put on the surrounding national forests. Their facilities will not be able to handle the influx of users.
I had pretty much decided not to persue producing fishing maps of the Cherokee National Forest streams. This migration, which sounds to me to be a real possibility, pretty much cinches that decision. Guess I will stay with focusing on helping out new would-be anglers treck in 2-3 hrs, fish 4-5, and hike out with LED headlamps... fee-FREE, for now.

I'm still holding out hope for nice, but not supper fast, corporate-decal-bearing, low cost ferries to the Park North Shore feeders, if only for us day-trippers.
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Last edited by JoeFred; 02-22-2012 at 12:21 AM..
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  #30  
Old 02-21-2012, 10:50 PM
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Superintendent Ditmanson has pretty much admitted that he is going to do the backpacker fee regardless of what the public comments say and that gathering the comments was just a formality:
http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com...-resources9454

We can rest assured if this does happen that there will be a substantial increase in front country camping fees will soon within a year I would guess. It has always seemed to me that fisherman would be the first to fight against something like this because it isn't about the money it is about taking away freedom that we have all enjoyed for so long. Freedom to carry in your own bed and lay down on the ground and sleep without paying a government official. It's about all the folks who gave up their houses and the school kids of TN and NC who gave pennies for the creation of the park.

Here is what President Roosevelt said at Newfound Gap during the park dedication ceremony:
"I hope . . . that one hundred years from now the Great Smoky National Park will still belong in practice, as well as in theory, to the people of a free nation. I hope it will not belong to them in theory alone and that in practice the ownership of this Park will not be in the hands of some strange kind of Government puppet. . . . I hope the use of it will not be confined to people who come hither on Government specified days and on Government directed tours."

The idea of charging an American to sleep on his back on the ground in the woods in a National Park with only the bed that you carried in on your back is just plain wrong.
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