Say 'No' to Backcountry Camping Fees in the GSMNP
We, the undersigned, stand in opposition to the 'Backcountry Office & Permit System Restructuring Proposal' submitted by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). Under this proposal, the GSMNP wouldcharge fees for the use of backcountry campsites.
Ouropposition comprises the following concerns:
* NPS-provided data demonstrates that backcountry use in the GSMNPhas significantly declined from a peak approximately15 years ago.
* Theassignment offees to backcountry users irresponsibly targets the group of individuals who are most likely to protect the Park and its resources, yetfails to address the significant damage to the Park wrought by frontcountry visitors.
* It is unlikely that all funds raised under the proposal would, in practice, actually find their way to "improve on those experiences that people have in the backcountry".
* In extremely difficult financial times for many individuals and families, the Park's timingfor this proposal is unseasonable and will induce financial hardships on some of itsfinest current and future stewards.
And perhaps most importantly,
* The GSMNP is prohibited from the charging of an entrance fee under deed restrictions imposed at the time of the Park's formation.We are concerned that enacting a fee for the use of the backcountry violates the spirit of the original Park agreement, which was to provide aresource 'for the permanent enjoyment of the people'.