Recent comments

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   3 weeks 3 days ago

    [AR 257]. Although there are no written notes or other documentation of these contacts, the presumption of regularity afforded to agencies leads the Court to conclude that defendants did what they claim to have done.

    A federal judge trusts the NPS, a federal bureaucrat. RAT is the key word here.

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   3 weeks 3 days ago

    Reading the court document left the clear impression the judge was seriously underwhelmed about trail issues at Blackberry Farms or the Ace Gap Trail. If there was a smoking gun at Blackberry Farms, it was a BB gun, and the issues seem to have been resolved.

    Information on pages 14 - 16 of the court document about the relocation of a section of the Ace Gap Trail leaves me wondering why this was an issue at all as part of this lawsuit. According to that document, a section of the trail left park land and crossed private property for about 500 feet, then returned to park land. The landowner, not unreasonably, requested that it be relocated off of his property, and the park hired a surveyor to determine where the boundary was located. The subsequent trail relocation first went through the standard NEPA review.

    It doesn't matter who the landowner is in such cases. If it had been my property, I'd likely have had the same request. The park's approach, cited in the testimony, seems very reasonable: "...it has been the practice of the Park to voluntarily relocate sections of a trail from private land to Park land when a landowner requests such action and when there is reasonable evidence that the trail is indeed on private land ....this practice is based on a respect for private property and a landowner’s legitimate concerns about trespass, privacy, liability, and potential vandalism."

    If the park had ignored any such request from an adjoining landowner to correct what amounted to trespass on private property, then there would be ample cause for complaint about the feds co-opting private land for public use. Sounds like the NPS did the right thing in this case, so where's the beef?

    I don't believe the judge used the word "frivolous" to describe the Blackberry Farms and Ace Gap Trail "complaints," but that word sure came to my mind after reading the above document.

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   3 weeks 3 days ago

    The Great American Entitlement Syndrome is on full display here.

  • Concessionaires Want More Investment, Business Opportunities, In National Parks   3 weeks 3 days ago

    Owen is right. Encourage people to get OUT into the park. I'm always amazed by the pitiful people parked in a campground like Norris watching satellite TV while just a few feet away trumpeter swans and otters swim in the Gibbon River and a herd of elk is venturing into the meadow. Pitiful people only because they have no idea what they are missing.

    Then again, while they stay indoors other folks may quietly enjoy the scenery without a lot of noise from other people.

    But still . . . .

  • Concessionaires Want More Investment, Business Opportunities, In National Parks   3 weeks 3 days ago

    Just a reminder to folks reading in these pages. The "NPS are all bad and always wrong" crowd only seems prolific because a few loud activists burn up limited space here in a modest forum. In the Real World their opinions are very much a minority.

    You can pretty well tell by the venom in the comments that they aren't here for open discussion and don't appear capable of having their minds changed.

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   3 weeks 3 days ago

    Kudos to NPS and the judge on this ruling. Those who use should pay for the privilege (NOT a right). Complaining about $4/night? Please!

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   3 weeks 3 days ago

    Gary - reading your comments reminded me that you were going to discredit the claim of private trails cut by Bberry Farms via personal inspection, GPS, etc.. Did you make it out there? Curious what you found.

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   3 weeks 3 days ago

    The judge also stated in his ruling that the comment period wasn't a "popular vote". I guess, i'm the only one that must have read that. And it was part of his decision. He actually reflected on this point quite a bit. As i've already stated, if local decision making was a key part to how NPs were ran, there would be no NPs.

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   3 weeks 3 days ago

    If you didn't live within 50 miles of the park you probably never heard anything about the proposed fee. I'm guessing a good number of backcountry users fall into that category. As to "the Smokies have been an exception to the rules" that is one of the reasons we fought this fee. I believe there may be more parks that don't charge than do, but what really bothers us is that we have always been told that the park would be "forever free" for residents of TN/NC because so many had to give up their land. We should have looked at the Cherokees and realized what the feral government's word is worth. We are not going away ...

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   3 weeks 3 days ago

    Voter turnout for elections is what? way under 50% in many cases? Just because a large number remain silent does not mean they could care less. Right or wrong it seems a lot of folks just don't feel like their say has any bearing ( which is evident in this case as true). An even bigger percentage i would say simply didn't know how to respond or even knew about the fee at all. In fact there was not a great deal of press about this at local levels much less on a greater scale. Even the judge seemed to agree this was not handled as well as it could have been.

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   3 weeks 3 days ago

    The public comment period was shortened as to disenfranchise negative input and discount users. Having attended one of the sham open house meetings, there was no mechanism for counting folks or capturing their comments at the open house. It consisted of the Superintendent Ditmanson walking around and doing a sell job on the fee along with his cronies, none of which are still at Great Smoky Mtns anymore.

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   3 weeks 3 days ago

    The number of public comments, JTHomas was over 1000. And the NPS tried to keep all 856 of the negative from the public by various tactics, not the least of which was an attempted economic rape. See for yourself. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/gosmokies/avid-smokies-hiker-seeks-access-to-comments-over

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   3 weeks 3 days ago

    apparently could care less about the issue.

    Or had no clue it was happening or how to respond. .

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   3 weeks 3 days ago

    I have no personal stake in this issue, although I can sympathize both with those who oppose the fee and the park staff which was trying to find new source of funds. That said, I have to be a bit amused at the discussion about the "voices of the majority" being ignored on this issue.

    According to the court's finding (link above) a total "of least 30 people attended" one of two open houses on the proposed fee, and "at least 40 people" attended the other. During the period for written comments, the NPS received a whopping 230 written comments on the proposal.

    Most of those comments were against the proposed fee, but the reality seems to be that a rather small but very vocal group was opposed to this fee....and the rest of the world, including thousands of backcountry users (a reported 86,153 of them in 2014) apparently could care less about the issue.

    If you believe SFW anecdotal's numbers rather than the park's number of users, and then seriously reduce the park's number's by 75%, you'd still have 21,000+ backcountry users in just one year who were silent, not to mention what we're told was an even larger number in recent years. Where were they when this proposal was being debated? Absent their groundswell of complaints, this seems to a bit of a tempest in a teapot.

    I'd prefer the fee be abandoned, but the reality seems to be the "majority" of either the citizens in general or those directly affected by the fee don't seem to care.

  • Concessionaires Want More Investment, Business Opportunities, In National Parks   3 weeks 3 days ago

    I do not believe any contradiction was made. I clearly stated both amenities and bare bones should be made available and each charged accordingly.

    For those of you opposed TV and wifi, I can assure you that you are in the minority. You've never dealt with guests in the park when either or both of these items aren't available. And even some hikers want a way to unwind one the hike is over. People can and do become very hostile.

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   3 weeks 3 days ago

    Civics 101. The people are greater than all of those.

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   3 weeks 3 days ago

    Actually, the NPS is a federal agency, and not under direction from what those County Commissioners in Blount County say. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is federal land, which trumps county land. Blount counties resolution doesn't matter, and has no bearing on the organic act. And seriously, Sevier county also borders the park, and they didn't pass the resolution. Cocke county also borders the park, and didn't pass a resolution either. Many of the other counties in NC didn't bother passing resolutions too. So, that resolution is meaningless and has no effect on the use of the organic act which was passed by congress. I realize you folks see that Blount County resolution as some victory, but it holds little weight. And I also don't believe "Most of the public" was against it. Most of the negative comments were driven by the same 5 or 6 people and you guys acted like it was a "Vote Early, Vote Often" election. Once again, most national parks have backcountry fees, and entrance fees, so, the NPS wrote those rules a long time ago as they were directed to do by Congress. If anything, the Smokies have been an exception to the rules. Once again, Civics 101 - Federal > State > County.

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   3 weeks 3 days ago

    That is true, the court has ruled they can have a backcountry fee system. But this is because they are allowed to write their own rules, and as long as they stay within those rules, right or wrong the public has no recourse to sucessfully have their own wishes taken into account.

    True, the issue is now settled. But something seems very wrong when county commissions surrounding a park pass resolutions condemning a fee, most of the public comments are against.. no compromises are made, and they march blindly onward.

    Yes they may be within their rules to do so, but is ignoring the wishes of most users really the correct route to take? I am of the belief it is not.

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   3 weeks 3 days ago

    Good luck on that angle. You obviously are missing the big picture and that is the court ruled that the NPS can have a backcountry system in the Smokies and that the system remains in place. Regardless if 10 people, or 5.6 trillion are in the backcountry at any given time, if those backcountry users want to stay overnight in a backcountry campground they have to pay a fee. The end.

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   3 weeks 3 days ago

    Considering this park was formed largely out of local public sentiment what is the point in having public comments if voices of the majority are ignored? Nice to know the wishes of the people carry no weight with you.

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   3 weeks 4 days ago

    My personal experience doesn't jive with the NPS numbers. Many folks are walking into smokies backcountry sites showing full only to find them almost empty. The NPS is trying to put lipstick on this pig proposal that cut backcountry usage by fudging data, yet again. When you own the system, you can manipulate it to your advantage. And that is obvious that this federal bureaucracy is doing that very thing.

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   3 weeks 4 days ago

    Uh Delores........ you believe those numbers the NPS is putting out about back overnight stays being up?

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   3 weeks 4 days ago

    Good job Southern Forest Watch thanks for bringing a fight to these type things. I feel this is only the beginning and what we really need are more groups of citizens who aren't afraid to push back on things like this.

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   3 weeks 4 days ago

    If local public sentiment drove EVERY single National Park rule and law, there would not be any National Parks and many of these areas would be ran like county parks. The parochial locals that are around many national parks tend to never understand that. If you read the ruling, the organic act is discussed in some detail.

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   3 weeks 4 days ago

    Also in 2012 the main road from the park slid off the side of a mountain creating a 4 month period where people couldn't bypass through the main road in the park. It cut into spring, which is also another popular period. Of course, they only use the statistics but don't talk about the weather or the other factors that ensued that year. Last year was one of the 4th busiest on record, and backcountry usage was also up. Of course, they claim the "NPS is trumping" up the numbers. If that was the case, why didn't they trump up 2012 too? This year is off to a great start too. But, hey... more conspriacies, i'm sure will be brought out from those without an iota of credibility..