Another county whose lands include Great Smoky Mountains National Park has gone on record opposing the park's fee for overnight backcountry use.
Though the vote by the Swain County (North Carolina) Commission is only symbolic, it marks the second county commission that has voiced disapproval of the $4 per person per night fee instituted earlier this year. Last month the Blount County (Tennessee) Commission passed a resolution opposing the fee.
The backcountry fee, which is capped at $20 per person per trip, took effect February 13. It is intended by park officials to help streamline and improve the backcountry permitting process and heighten the presence of rangers in the backcountry.
Pinched by an inadequate budget and unable to charge an entrance fee for any of the roughly 9 million yearly visitors, park officials see no way of improving visitor services and protecting backcountry resources without charging users who spend the night in the woods.
In their resolution adopted Tuesday night, the Swain County commissioners noted that the park contains cemeteries containing the graves of past county residents and that "many Swain County residents use the backcountry campsites to visit the cemeteries wherein their ancestors are buried, to explore the home places that their ancestors occupied, and to enjoy simple outdoor recreation."
Furthermore, the resolution stated that the commission "has a genuine concern that the imposition of this unique fee may lay the groundwork for the imposition of other fees for the use of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which may further reduce park visitation to the detriment of Swain County's small businesses and government."