Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Superintendent Ditmanson Comments on Proposed Backcountry Fee System

Some of you may recall the firestorm that erupted over the backcountry fee system proposed by Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials last July.

The controversy is the result of an announcement officials that they were considering a move to make all backcountry camping permits (for all sites) go through Recreation.gov, an online and call-in reservation service. The proposal would cost backpackers between $2.25 and $10.00 to make a reservation for a backcountry campsite (depending on which of three proposals is ultimately adopted).

Kurt Repanshek at the National Parks Traveler published a lengthy article yesterday that includes several comments from Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent, Dale Ditmanson. As far as I know, these are the first public comments about the proposal made by the Superintendent.

In the article, Ditmanson offers some of his insights on potential problems with the system, including 48-hour cancellation fees and how they impact the "spontaneity of backcountry campers". He also discusses issues concerning Appalachian Trail thru-hikers who pass through the Smokies in April.

You can read the full article by clicking here.


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