I'd also wonder if the fees would not just be going to hire people to make sure that fees are paid as opposed to bringing anything new to the table.
How many rangers does it take to check 100 backcountry sites each night which are by design widely dispersed? Compare that to the cost of hiring the new employees in relation to the income, and they'll probably succeed at creating more jobs through fees with no new value added.
I don't mind paying a fee if only hikers used the area but as mentioned, there is more auto and horse traffic than hiker traffic...why not charge a fee as percentage of use ie: most use by autos= highest fee, moderate use by horseback = adjusted lower fee, lowest use by hikers = lowest fees. Charge the fee = to the amount of use by group.
This sounds like poor government thought going on...example....they just finished a new toll road connecting two fairly large towns in my area. It wasn't originally designed as a toll road but became one when the government realized that is was going to be over budget...why?....construction of toll booths put it over budget.....catch 22 and the public loses. No one uses the new road in the toll sections and now the government is pissed because they cannot force truck traffic off of the old road and onto the toll road because the old road is a national highway.....??????....main use of the new toll road???...bicyclers who go around the toll booths and travel in VERY light traffic. LOL
Sorry for the rant.
The way our park systems are being cut is anyone surprised?
Since 90% or more of the sightseeing in GSMNP is via their automobile, those who rarely get much out of sight of their vehicle, charge them a $1 fee, or less. More cash will be raised in a matter of days than years of $5 fees from hikers. I agree the campsites in the park get really trashed, rules ignored, etc. Would be good to see more enforcement. If GSMNP goes to the 800 reservation system that would be bad for hikers.
Since the campsite can only hold so many we had a choice of doing a zero at one site or a 28 mile day. I had sworn to take it easy going through the park since it was our last week, but as soon as the challenge came up, I said we'd do the 28 mile day. It was awesome.
The problem with charging cars is the original act of congress that authorized the park. Many families were forced off their land by invoking imminent domain on their lands. They sued and a part of the final agreement was that they could never be denied admission to their family graveyards and there could never be an admission to the park for any one.
NPS is now trying to find a way to circumvent this law. It would be extremely difficult to apply it to vehicles, but maybe they can get away with it with a dirty subculture of hikers that are an extreme minority. That's why it will probably pass. Most Smokies visitors won't be affected.
If it happens, it will be a damned shame, especially for folks like me who are local and view the park as a major feature of the area that will suddenly become relatively difficult and expensive to visit.
If people spent less time being offended and more time actually living, we'd all be a whole lot happier!
Of course the state of Tennessee benefits from this as much of their revenue comes from tourism of the park."When the state of Tennessee transferred ownership of Newfound Gap Road to the federal government in 1936, it stipulated that “no toll or license fee shall ever be imposed…” to travel the road. "
Action by the Tennessee legislature would be required to lift this deed restriction if Great Smoky Mountains National Park ever wished to charge an entrance fee.
I got a copy of the "GSM Employee Briefing Paper" (I'll scan it in and post it tomorrow)
it has 3 fee options listed:
1. $10 per reservation + $5 per person or
2. $10 per reservation + $2.25 per person per night or
3. $4 per person
Bearpaw - I agree with both your points.
I dont mind paying a fee, but it needs to equal across the board.
South MS Patriot
There is a fundamental issue at the root of this propoal that some foldks seem to be missing. The park service currently does not have the resources to man the backcountry reservation phone. They want to utilize a call center for this, which costs money. They believe that they can offset the cost of the call center with a $5 charge for backcountry permits. This would be consistent with what the other National Parks currently do.
The Smoky Mountain Nation Park is currently collecting up comments and suggestions. They want to try to implement something that works for the majority for people. Ther eare a lot of open questions that need to be answered. If you have a concern and want to be heard, submit it to the park service. The curent system doesnt work and needs to be changed. The park isnt trying to screw the hikers. It is trying to fined an acceptable solution.
SMHC Trail Maintainer
Volunteer in the Park (VIP) GSMNP
I can almost guarantee that the federal government can make a five dollar fee cost the tax payers much more. With benefits and salary they would need to charge ten dollars.
For the past 10 years or so I have been doing 3-5 short trips each year for a total of probably 100 nights. I don't have any issues with the current system. Yes, usually it takes a couple of calls to put the fix in if I am going to a reserved site or shelter, but so what? Also, about a third of my trips are spur of the moment--like 2-3 hours notice and the proposed reservation system wouldn't support that.