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Group sues over Smokies backcountry fees

3:41 PM, Mar 5, 2013   |    comments
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An organization started to fight a backcountry camping fee in the Great Smoky Mountains is suing over the decision to begin a fee and reservation program.

Southern Forest Watch and three individuals are suing the Secretary of the Interior, the National Park Service, and the park's superintendent.

They claim the recently implemented backcountry camping fee is the same thing as an entrance fee, which is illegal for the Smokies.

The plaintiffs also claim that the fee will not produce a surplus to pay for increased ranger patrol presence in the backcountry as promised.

The lawsuit asks for the fee and reservation system to be ordered void and unenforceable.

The fee went into effect last month.

Backcountry campers must pay $4 dollars per day per person.

The Park Service says the costs will be used to cover a new reservation website, the addition of two new rangers to focus on backcountry patrols, and increased hours at the backcountry office.

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