Published Mar 12, 2012
Wilderness and backcountry camping for those on foot or horseback in the Great Smoky Mountains won't be free forever. Great Smoky Mountains Superintendent Dale Ditmanson says fees have been authorized by the National Park Service and will take effect in 2013.
Mr. Ditmanson says, "Concern was also raised about the range of fee amounts that were under consideration and that the resulting revenues may be diverted to other programs. We have decided to focus our plans around the lowest and simplest of the fees under study: $4 per night per person. Most importantly, 100% of the revenue from this program will be invested in improving back-country services through extended hours of the back-country office, trip-planning assistance, on-line reservations, and protection of park resources through increased ranger staff. "
The proposal was open for public comment last summer and some 230 written comments and two petitions were received during the comment period. According to Ditmanson, "Many commenters were under the misconception that the Smokies is legally prohibited from charging user fees. But, we have long been authorized to collect user fees for specific activities such as front country camping, weddings, and commercial filming."
Ditmanson also said, "The system developed will also need to be practicable for Appalachian Trail thru-hikers whose itineraries evolve from day-to-day."
AppalachianTrail.com will update you as information becomes available.
Tags: Attractions, Tourism, Appalachian Trail, Hiking, Hiking Gear, and Camping Gear
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