A strained relationship: Suspicion of NPS lingers among some backcountry users, parkside communitiesWritten by Holly Kays
It’s been three years since a vigorous debate about charging for backcountry camping in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park ended with the park’s decision to charge backpackers a $4 fee, but for the fee’s most stalwart opponents, the issue isn’t yet in the rearview mirror.
Southern Forest Watch, a group that formed expressly to fight the fee, filed suit against the National Park Service soon after the fee was approved in February 2013. The public had overwhelmingly decried the proposal, SFW said, arguing that the park hadn’t followed correct procedure when approving it and contending that the assertion that the existing backcountry system was inadequate, crowded and causing complaints — necessitating the fee — was unfounded.
When Team U.S.A. marches into the Olympic stadium this summer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympic Games, Michal Smolen will become Nantahala Outdoor Center’s 23rd Olympian in the sport of Whitewater Canoe Slalom, entering in the kayak category — but it will be his first time competing in the Olympics.