Letter: New park backcountry fee should be considered illegal
Most of the national parks in the United States were presented to the people by the United States government. The parks in the west were already on government land. All the Federal Government needed to do was to designate them as national parks and present them to the people.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is different. It was not created from government land. In the beginning it was owned by the people.
The people wanted a national park in the eastern United States. They donated money to a fund in order to purchase this land. Finally the money was raised. The farms, communities, lumber holdings and other parcels were purchased. The land for a national park was acquired by the people.
The people presented this land to the Federal Government to be maintained as a national park. They had only one stipulation: There was never to be an entrance fee charged for the use of the park by the people.
Now that stipulation has been disregarded. The Park Service has begun to charge a fee for backcountry use. They say the parks out west charge a fee and that we should do the same.
When this stipulation was made that there was never to be an entrance fee charged, it did not specify that the backcountry, the majority of the park, was exempt from this request. The Park Service calls it a “user fee.” I feel that any fee to use the park, whether backcountry or frontcountry, is an entrance fee and should be considered illegal.
What will the Park Service put a “user fee” on next?