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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hikers petition against Smokies Backcountry camping fees | wbir.com

Hikers petition against Smokies Backcountry camping fees | wbir.com:

"While some of the high-quality gear can be expensive, the hike is currently free of charge. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park does not charge multi-day hikers any fees for backcountry camping permits.
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In late-July, GSMNP officials announced public meetings to discuss proposed fees for backcountry campers. Since then, more than 500 people have signed a petition against adding pay-for-permits.

'Almost all of the trail maintenance and campsite rehabilitation is done by volunteer backpackers,' said Jim Baun, a backcountry hiker who started the petition. 'I feel like we already put in our sweat-equity towards the park. Fees would target people who have a minimal impact on the park because we don't use many park resources and we help maintain a lot of the park for free.'

'At this point we are strictly in the mode of starting the conversation. Nothing is set in stone,' said Nancy Gray, GSMNP spokesperson. 'We want to start this dialogue and have a few options to use as a starting point.'"

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