Court rules that lawsuit challenging Smokies backcountry fees can proceed
By Morgan Simmons, Knoxville News Sentinel
A truck and camper head out of the Great Smokies National Park. AP photo
KNOXVILLE (News Sentinel) -
A federal judge has ruled that an organization's lawsuit challenging the new backcountry camping fee in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park can move forward.
The ruling also allows for Southern Forest Watch to proceed in its challenge of the park's decision to grant licenses and rights to "private entities and political elites" as alleged in the group's federal lawsuit filed a year ago.
The ruling did, however, deny Southern Forest Watch's standing to challenge the online reservation system that the park initiated when it began requiring a $4-per-night fee for staying at any of the park's 80-plus backcountry campsites and 15 trail shelters.
The fee went into effect a year ago and immediately was challenged in federal court by the nonprofit organization.