H1170: Oppose Parking Fees/GSM Nat'l Park. Latest Version


House
Passed 1st Reading
Passed 3rd Reading
Senate
Passed 1st Reading
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GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA

SESSION 2021

H                                                                                                                                                    1

HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION 1170

 

 

Sponsors: Representative Clampitt. For a complete list of sponsors, refer to the North Carolina General Assembly web site. Referred to: Calendar 6/14/2022

June 14, 2022

A JOINT RESOLUTION urging congress to oppose the imposition of the proposed parking fees for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Whereas, the current administration of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (hereinafter Park) has proposed unprecedented park‑wide parking fees for visitors to the Park, including citizens of the great State of North Carolina; and

Whereas, the proposed parking fee is being presented as an expanded amenity fee despite there being no expanded amenity being offered by the Park. In actuality, the Park's current administration has admitted that it intends to limit parking in certain areas of the Park; and

Whereas, more than half of the land in the Park is contained within the State of North Carolina, including significant tracts of land in Haywood County as well as Swain County, which makes up 42% of the Park's acreage; and

Whereas, the Swain County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution expressing its formal opposition to the imposition of parking fees and any other fees that are not directly associated with the use of amenities in the Park and has been joined by the Haywood County Board of Commissioners which stated its own opposition to the imposition of these parking fees via a letter sent directly to the Park's current administration and other federal officials. These counties have been further joined by Graham County, which shares a border with the GSMNP, and its Board of Commissioners, with their own resolution in opposition to the imposition of parking fees in GSMNP; and

Whereas, North Carolina citizens and families contributed greatly to the lands that now make up the Park. Many current North Carolinians are descendants of the original inhabitants of the land in the Park and have ancestors buried within the boundaries of the Park, including 1,100 grave sites in 21 cemeteries in Swain County. In addition to the parking fees, area residents have been told that they can no longer hold religious services in the Park and that the Park's administration may no longer accommodate the transportation of decorations for the graves of veterans buried in the Park; and

Whereas, the Park was established as a fee‑free Park and it was understood by those that gave up their lands to create the Park that there would never be a charge to enter the Park. The proposed parking fee represents a clear attempt to circumvent the historical understanding and agreements for a fee‑free Park and would be a significant blow to the public's trust; and

Whereas, the Park, which is the country's most visited National Park and the leading attraction for many visitors to North Carolina, is a national treasure and a matter of State pride for many North Carolinians; and

Whereas, the Park was created for public use and the benefit of all citizens. The imposition of parking fees would represent a significant impediment and detrimental burden for certain citizens wishing to freely access their federal public lands contained within the Park; and

Whereas, the imposition of parking fees also represents a threat to tourism in North Carolina, particularly small businesses that rely on visitors to the Park; and

Whereas, such federal recreation fees represent a form of double taxation and, once established, are usually never removed and almost always have been proven to increase and even double over time; and

Whereas, the Park's current administration has failed to provide sufficient or necessary information as to (i) how the proposed parking fees would be enforced, (ii) how the revenues raised from the fees would be allocated within the Park, and (iii) what amount of the revenue from the fee would be funneled back to directly benefit the Park's parking program; and

Whereas, the Park's current administration has not presented any evidence to suggest there is public support for the proposed parking fee which is a requirement stated in the National Park Service's Recreation Fee Collection Manual (Reference Manual 22A) governing these fees and their establishment. Much to the contrary and as demonstrated, the duly elected representatives of the people in the jurisdictions closest to the Park have stated their opposition to the proposed parking fees; and

Whereas, the General Assembly urges Congress to take action to prevent the administration of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to impose parking fees as it is the role of Congress to fund our National Parks through the federal appropriations process, not individual citizens through parking fees; Now, therefore,

Be it resolved by the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring:

SECTION 1.  The General Assembly urges Congress to take action in preventing any proposed parking fees for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park or any further fee for the use of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

SECTION 2.  The General Assembly does hereby proclaim its earnest desire to see the Great Smoky Mountains National Park remain freely accessible to all North Carolinians and continue as the naturally wild and fee‑free unit of the National Park Service that it has been in the past.

SECTION 3.  The Secretary of State shall transmit a copy of this resolution to the members of North Carolina's congressional delegation and the current administration of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

SECTION 4.  This resolution is effective upon ratification.