The End or the Beginning  


It has been an incredibly busy time for your Fee Fighting friends at the Southern Forest Watch.  In some high drama involving the most manipulative and back door dealing politician Tennessee has ever known, our organization was able to beat Lamar Alexander in his hometown of Maryville by getting a resolution passed on second reading.   It became apparent that Lamar had gone in behind us and strong armed individual council members to have them change their votes against our resolution condemning the Backcountry Fee.  What was initially a 14-0 vote ended up being just one vote enough to win.   If you would like to watch the actual proceedings, I would encourage you do to so.  You will see some familiar faces who have assisted us in our fight against the Park Service.  You will also see Ditmanson in all his glory with his cronies as he calls in favors from the council for allowing Blount County to use their communication equipment.

It is a lesson in civics for children to see how corrupt some people can be when under political pressure.  More emails and phone calls were received by individual commissioners than any other item they have ever undertaken.  One commissioner told us he received about 400 emails alone over the resolution.  Our champions were Commissioner Tab Burhkalter and Commissioner Tonya Burchfield, an old friend of mine.  I would like to thank the commissioners who did not cave to the machinations of the plaid shirted Lamar Alexander and stood with the citizens of the State of Tennessee over the Federal Government.   What this does is pave the way for the state to adopt a similar legislation and we may be on our way to getting enough political pressure to kill the fee in its tracks.  Here is a link to the meeting in its entirety.  I am extremely proud of the Southern Forest Watch members who spoke on YOUR behalf.  Pay particular attention to the drama right before the vote from Commissioner Lambert and what she insinuates about the SFW and myself in particular.  It gives you some insight as to how dirty local politics can be when a bigwig gets involved. 

Bottom line is, though.  We prevailed.  And that means we can prevail in getting the fee rescinded which is what this resolution calls for.  Beginning tomorrow, we will start the process to have our lawsuit against the National Park Service initiated.  You will likely hear about it but not from local media.  Local media has been told not to cover negative stories related to the Smokies.  In fact, WBIR has to date, never even acknowledged that there is any opposition to the fee whatsoever despite public comments that are 18-1 against it.  National Media has, though, covered us with respective due journalistic diligence.  Here is another recent story link.

 National Parks | Great Smoky Mountains National ParklNational Parks Traveler

When we file suit next week, you will hear little else from me about the fee.  That is because I have been expressly forbidden to comment once we are in litigation with the NPS.  It is not too late for you to donate money though!


Now back to backpacking.  I paid $4 last weekend but do not intend to enter the Smokies in that capacity until I do so a a free man enjoying the splendor of a wilderness donated by our ancestors and not a customer of the Federal Government.  When we beat them in court, I will stride triumphantly into the park with you and all our brothers and sisters in the SFW and Highlander clans.  These patriots have fought hard to keep this free for future generations and I am overwhelmed with the response, support and encouragement.  We have a great group of  Fee Fighters, some of whom are from the Highlander Ranks.  Thank them by supporting us and spreading the word.

I may be going out to other areas while this fee is in play but we have a changing tide of support.   WE are going to beat this FEE.  Mark my words, and it will be the result of the efforts of hundreds and hundreds of folks.

Stay tuned,  stay free and remember the words of FDR as he dedicated the Park at Newfound Gap in 1940:


But there is a second danger—a danger from without. I hope, for example, that one hundred years from now the Great Smoky National Park will still belong in practice, as well as in theory, to the people of a free nation. I hope it will not belong to them in theory alone and that in practice the ownership of this Park will not be in the hands of some strange kind of Government puppet subject to some strange kind of an overseas overlord. I hope the use of it will not be confined to people who come hither on Government specified days and on Government directed tours. I hope the trees will not be slaughtered by the axe in order that a Government may conduct wars of aggression against other nations. I hope that roads and paths and trails will still be built in the cause of the liberty of recreation, and not confined to the ulterior purposes of a war machine controlled by an individual or by an oligarchy.

That there is a danger from without is at last recognized by most of us Americans. That such a danger cannot longer be met with pitchforks and squirrel rifles or even with the training or the weapons of the war of 1917 and 1918, is equally clear to most of us Americans.

It is not a change from the American way of life to advocate or legislate a greater and a speedier preparedness. It is a positive protection to the American way of life. You and I know that in the process of preparing against danger we shall not have to abandon and we will not abandon the great social improvements that have come to the American people in these later years. We need not swap the gain of better living for the gain of better defense. I propose that we retain the one and gain the other.

But to conserve our liberties will not be easy. The task will require the united efforts of us all. It will require sacrifices from us all.

The pioneers survived by fighting their own fight and by, standing together as one man in the face of danger. If we, their descendants, are to meet the dangers that threaten us, we too must be ready to fight our own fight and stand together as one man. In hours of peril the frontiersmen, whatever their personal likes or dislikes, whatever their personal differences of opinion, gathered together in absolute unity for defense. We, in this hour, must have and will have absolute national unity for total defense.

What shall we be defending? The good earth of this land. our homes, our families-yes, and far more. We shall be defending a way of life which has given more freedom to the soul and body of man than ever has been realized in the world before, a way of life that has let men scale whatever heights they could scale without hurting their fellows, a way of life that has let men hold up their heads and admit no master but God.

That way of life is menaced. We can meet the threat. We can meet it with the old frontier spirit. We can forge our weapons, train ourselves to shoot, meet fire with fire, and with the courage and the unity of the frontiersmen.

It is our pride that in our country men are free to differ with each other and with their Government and to follow their own thoughts and express them. We believe that the only whole man is a free man. We believe that, in the' face of danger, the old spirit of the frontiersmen that is in our blood will give us the courage and unity that we must have. We need that spirit in this hour. We need a conviction, felt deep in us all, that there are no divisions among us. We are all members of the same body. We are all Americans.

The winds that blow through the wide sky in these mountains, the winds that sweep from Canada to Mexico, from the Pacific to the Atlantic—have always blown on free men. We are free today