[at-l] Breaking News: Smokies Backcountry Camping Fee Approved

Eddy ewker at yahoo.com
Wed Mar 7 11:49:54 CST 2012


well that sucks. Time to get your Smokies backpacking fix in before next yr

Conquest: It is not the Mountain we conquer but Ourselves 



--- On Wed, 3/7/12, Jim Smith <cutter78 at gmail.com> wrote:


From: Jim Smith <cutter78 at gmail.com>
Subject: [at-l] Breaking News: Smokies Backcountry Camping Fee Approved
To: "at-l" <at-l at backcountry.net>
Date: Wednesday, March 7, 2012, 10:30 AM



Smokies Backcountry Camping Fee Approved






      GATLINBURG  -Great Smoky Mountains Superintendent Dale A. Ditmanson


has announced that the Park’s proposal to begin collecting for the use of


the Park’s backcountry campsites and shelters has been approved by the


National Park Service. This approval clears the way for the Park to move


forward with developing an on line system to collect fees beginning in 2013


for reserving and use of the Park’s backcountry by overnight hikers and


equestrians.


      The Park developed the plan in order to improve its trip-planning and


reservation services to users and to expand its backcountry Ranger presence


to better protect park resources through enforcement of food-storage and


other regulations and  improved visitor education regarding Leave-No-Trace


principles.


      The proposal was open for public comment last summer and some 230


written comments and two petitions were received during the comment period.


According to Ditmanson, the public comments provided a great deal of


constructive input on the concerns Park backcountry users had about the fee


plan. “Many commenters were under the misconception that the Smokies is


legally prohibited from charging user fees.  The Park is prohibited from


charging a toll or license fee from motorists crossing Park roads, by


language in a 1951 deed under which the ownership of some park roads was


transferred from the State of Tennessee to the National Park Service.  But,


we have long been authorized to collect user fees for specific activities


such as front country camping, weddings, and commercial filming.”


                                  (over)




Smokies Backcountry Fee Proposal – page 2






      “There was also a significant amount of concern about our initial


plan to utilize the same computerized federal reservation system,


www.recreation.gov  that virtually all national parks use to reserve


drive-in sites in front country campgrounds. We acknowledge that some of


the policies, such as the lead time for making reservations and


cancellations, are not a good fit for more spontaneous backcountry users.


We will not use that system unless we are convinced that it can provide the


level of service we want to offer, and are exploring the alternative of


developing a stand-alone software program tailored specifically to the


Smokies. The system developed will also need to be practicable for


Appalachian Trail thru hikers whose itineraries evolve from day-to-day.”


      “Concern was also raised about the range of fee amounts that were


under consideration and that the resulting revenues may be diverted to


other programs. We have decided to focus our plans around the lowest and


simplest of the fees under study: $4 per night per person. Most


importantly, 100% of the revenue from this program will be invested in


improving back-country services through extended hours of the back-country


office, trip-planning assistance, on-line reservations, and protection of


park resources through increased ranger staff. ”


      Now that the proposal has been approved, Park managers plan to


provide periodic updates as plans for the reservation system evolve.




About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service


employees care for America’s 395 national parks and work with communities


across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home


recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.


-----Inline Attachment Follows-----


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