Gridlock National Park
In case you didn’t notice, the Park Service is in the midst of trying to decide how to best manage the double million that visit Cades Cove each year. If you’ve visited the Cove anytime during the last 20 years you know what the problem is…cars, cars, and more cars. They just keep building the darn things and people just can’t wait to leave the traffic jams in Atlanta, D.C. or Pigeon Forge for that matter, and go sit in traffic in the Cove. I gotta admit if you want to sit in traffic, you could do a lot worse.
If the Cove was its own national park it would rank as one of the most visited in the country with as many visits as Acadia, and far more than the Everglades, Shenandoah, Sequoia, Mt. Rainier and about 90% of the rest of the system. So a ratinal person would say OK, let's limit traffic. There's only one way in. Simple, right? C'mon you kidding me? This is America after all. We don't do anything simple any more.
So how does the Park Service address this problem? Bored, lonely, need to justify your existence? Then create some acronyms and have some meetings! That’s the way the Feds do it. According to the info in this press release they will use the VERP (Virtual Elimination of Rational People?) process to talk to Park visitors to find out why they are sitting in traffic, how much they enjoy sitting in traffic, and what can the Park Service do to help them enjoy the experience more fully. They will then conduct an EIS (Enable Instant Slumber?) to come up with options that can be tossed around in series of completely whitewashed public meetings, while the decisions are made behind closed doors in Washington. All this will be done by consultants of various stripes that love these fat government projects that never seem to end…I could mention the North Shore Road for the umpteenth time, but oops! Dang, did it again.
Posted by Ole Slew Foot at July 31, 2005 10:48 PM
All this because the brain trust in Townsend has always howled in protest whenever any common sense measure like limiting traffic in the Cove are discussed. I wonder if Yosemite or Zion followed this maze of bureaucratic wandering when they initiated shuttle buses years ago. I implore you loyal Volunteers to mill around the Cove over the next few months and seek out these clipboard-wielding canvassers. Let them know your feelings, tell them how much you’d like to visit the Cove of our youth, before it became Gridlock National Park.
The fairest and most reasonable thing to do would be to impose a five dollar fee on each car driving into the Cove. The observation areas could be enlarged slightly to enable people to pull over to observe the open areas. The road system should be extended to enable visitors to take longer tours of some of the elevated areas in the Cove neighborhood.
The five dollar fee is reasonable and would encourage people to avail themselves of the enhanced observation areas so as to maximize their experience. The fee would certainly help fund park maintenance. It would also discourage multiple trips by single vehicles.
Finally, the park should sell passes to the picnic tables. Many out-of-state tourists are unable to find tables in the picnic areas because local residents treat the park as their personal reserve. Granted, they are entitled to use the park facilities, but assembling large family groups and spreading out over several tables in the picnic areas for all-day extended family reunions is hardly fair. Picnic areas were never meant to be treated as group day-camping areas.
Building a mass transit system through the park or establishing a diesel-belching busline is silly and will destroy the "wildness" so many hope to see.
Out of all the ideas that have been proposed,this one has to be the best one I have heard.Mass transit will ruin Cades Cove,as it will not only create more pollution,but whats the point in going if you can't go on your on terms.The only thing I would add,is that part of that fee could be used for stronger traffic enforcement,because lets face it,it's not just the volume of traffic,but the certain percentage of idiots who do stupid things in those cars,such as stopping in the middle of the road,to chase after wildlife,among other stupid,inconsiderate things.If they can get the enforcement staff to start fining these idiots,and keping them out the park,the people who actually appreciate the park could enjoy it a lot more.