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Topic: End Backcountry Permit Fees in the GSM NP, Backcountry Permit Fees in the GSM< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
 Post Number: 1
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 8:07 am  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

First let me apologize for my first post being such a heavy topic. (long time member-first time poster).

I recently completed a 50 mile section hike along the Appalachian Trail (Devils Fork to Lemon Gap in North Carolina) with a small group from the Boy Scout Troop which I volunteer.

I have been doing this for four years now and we usually pick up where we left off the year before, this year we should have backpacked the Great Smokey Mountains National Park (GSM NP). This year I specifically did not plan the hike for the GSM NP (because of the new back country user fees they implemented last year.

I was hoping there would have been enough backlash to end the fees but but suspect people may not really be aware of the problem. This year I was disturbed to hear from NOBO hikers the user fees have expanded to people trying to provide random acts of kindness to hikers (trail magic).

So for better or worse I have created a petition on the White House web site to recall the fees. It's something I feel strong enough about stand up and petition the government. You can view and sign the petition here:

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petitio....v37XzbT

I you support this idea will you add your name to mine?  If this petition gets 100,000 signatures by May 19, 2014, the White House will review it and respond.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 8:43 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The fees have been discussed here, mostly when implemented.  Some of us agree with the fees.  I see no difference in back country fees in GSM vs the same fees in Yosemite, Yellowstone, Olympic, Glacier, etc...  

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 8:48 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Congrats on your first post  :)

Okay, here's my personal opinion about backcountry permit fees in GSMNP...
First of all, access to GSMNP is free, which is unusual for a national park.
Second, most national parks charge a backcountry permit fee. I don't have a problem with it, IF the money stays in that park (I have no idea where the money goes once it is collected). $20 seems like a lot, especially if the permit is only for 1-2 nights, but most parks that I am aware of charge $20 as well. Some even tack on an additional "per person" fee.

Again, this is my personal opinion. Sorry, I won't sign the petition.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 8:55 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

GSMNP needs FRONTcountry fees.  Way too many people in there.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 9:10 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

While I somewhat agree with you, although for entirely different reasons, I'm not interested in becoming emotionally involved any more.  Its a dead issue.  What's done is done.  

If you want to add any opinions or ideas to the issue, there are several threads in the Southern forum.  You're not going to get much sympathy or support for your petition in the trailhead register...especially since its your first post.  

Good luck, but IMO, you're about 2 years late.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 10:04 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

User fees are a necessary fact: the support for maintenance etc. is otherwise just not there and a reservation system for a popular destination is inevitable.

That the fees are used appropriately is worth monitoring and overseeing, their removal is a bad idea. Fewer and fewer free lunches in this world of smaller and smaller government.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 12:21 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I would have to agree user fees are necessary and will come in one form or another.  If it isn't a backcountry permit fee you will have fees for campsites or trailhead parking.  The fees (hopefully) should be going to the maintenance and operations of the park.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 1:09 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

This was discussed at some length on this forum already, starting a couple years ago.  The general opinions fell into two categories:

1) Those who lived close to GSMNP and were used to getting free backcountry permits were generally unhappy with it, and demanded it be changed back.

2) Those who have long been used to paying backcountry fees in other parks around the country didn't feel a whole lotta sympathy.  "Pay to play", and all.

I do agree 100% though that the fees must go directly towards park backcountry expenses, such as rangers and trail maintenance.  I'm not interested in paying backcountry fees to build a huge frontcountry lodge and activity/event center that are antithetical to the concept of wilderness.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 1:10 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

If only Congress would fund the parks, and Forests, BLM areas, and F&W Refugees, to the levels needed to run them...

That is the petition I would sign.

Otherwise, I am okay with paying a small fee to visit such beautiful places and to keep them open.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 1:51 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(tarol @ Apr. 21 2014, 1:10 pm)
QUOTE
If only Congress would fund the parks, and Forests, BLM areas, and F&W Refugees, to the levels needed to run them...

Fish & Wildlife have Refugees?  :)

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 2:12 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(ol-zeke @ Apr. 21 2014, 10:51 am)
QUOTE

(tarol @ Apr. 21 2014, 1:10 pm)
QUOTE
If only Congress would fund the parks, and Forests, BLM areas, and F&W Refugees, to the levels needed to run them...

Fish & Wildlife have Refugees?  :)

The Ospreys are from South America. Just sayin'

http://www.friendsofblackwater.org/camhtm.html

http://www.oregonlive.com/newsfla....a406c16

Fleeing all that Venezuelan turmoil surely means Rodney's refugee application will go through? I mean the poor guy is relegated to living under a bridge.....
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 2:44 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Dpp @ Apr. 21 2014, 8:07 am)
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I was hoping there would have been enough backlash to end the fees but but suspect people may not really be aware of the problem.

While I understand that it hurts to have to pay fees where none existed before, the argument put forth by the petition why it should be repealed is really weak.  I'd call it lame, actually.  The fees should be repealed because they "generate public ill-will" and because hikers are going elsewhere?  And it's "suspected that enforcement costs are exceeding revenues"... as in there's no evidence to that effect...

I'm not sure what "problem" you're referring to, exactly, except maybe that people are pissed that they have to pay for something they used to get for free.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 3:01 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Unfortunately, fees seem to be the only way to maintain operation given the current lack of support for fully funding these places out of the general budget.   I can't complain about the cost, since I value the benefit so highly.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 3:46 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Plus, and I've no experience with GSMNP, with each of those backcountry designated overnight sites absent a reservation system putting together a route would appear to be a major pain.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 4:01 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I agree that those who play should have to pay. User fees are great if the fees go to the park for trail maintenance and other costs of the backcountry. I think those in the front country should have to pay too though. I'm always amazed that some parks charge me, a backcountry user , the same price as someone in a front country campsite that has got a concrete pad, water and unlimited electricity.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 4:26 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(QCHIKER @ Apr. 21 2014, 1:01 pm)
QUOTE
I agree that those who play should have to pay. User fees are great if the fees go to the park for trail maintenance and other costs of the backcountry. I think those in the front country should have to pay too though. I'm always amazed that some parks charge me, a backcountry user , the same price as someone in a front country campsite that has got a concrete pad, water and unlimited electricity.

My experience is the opposite: I always giggle that I'm getting a FAR better campsite free for a little sweat equity (and a wave of my annual pass for entrance) while the front country is getting charged per night to get woken up at all hours by blasting radios, late arriving guests and what-all.

And the water tasters better too.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 4:58 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(GoBlueHiker @ Apr. 21 2014, 1:09 pm)
QUOTE
1) Those who lived close to GSMNP and were used to getting free backcountry permits were generally unhappy with it, and demanded it be changed back.

Just to say a quick word about the locals, who have come out of this whole thing being painted as spoilt brats who want something for nothing.....

A lot of the locals have no issue paying fees to enter, or use certain areas of the national park.  Where a lot of people are upset is that they feel the wrong user group is being targeted to generate additional operating revenue for the park.  We get that the park needs additional funding.  We get that the park's resources are stretched thin.

Here's the thing.  On a typical weekend day 60,000 people drive into & around the park.  For Free.  The vast majority of the park's employees spend the day directing traffic, unclogging bear jams, educating people about not feeding wild animals in tourist trap areas, etc etc.  This is a massive drain on park employees time.  

Its really hard to believe that backpackers have been such a hindrance on the park that they needed to start charging them the only fees charged by the national park.  Additionally, some are very bitter that a user group who have consistently been such good stewards for the park are now charged to use it, when the general public is allowed to spew diesel exhaust all over Cades Cove, throwing trash out the window, blasting their country music......for free.
(poorly stereotyped but surprisingly accurate)
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 5:10 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Yet, I thought the NPS was prohibited from charging fees for entry because of the agreements when the park was established.  So the front country users are free to come and go, but the BC users have no such provisions.  

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 5:44 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

"all over Cades Cove, throwing trash out the window, blasting their country music......for free."

Camping at Cades Cove is $20 per night for a site. My camp sites up into the headwaters of the Lyell Fork of the Merced were all free last year and will be again this year.... or where ever I choose to sleep in that 704,624 acres of designated wilderness. And there's no need for "generator-free" camping loops (!) back out there either......

The road access is free due to the original deal as noted above.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 6:49 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

I can understand the sentiment, but second what Tarol said.
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