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Smokies officials weigh backcountry camping fees

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CHEROKEE, NC (AP) -- The Great Smoky Mountains National Park
may start charging for backcountry camping and hire more rangers to
manage what happens in the deep woods.

Park officials are holding an open house Tuesday in Cherokee and
Thursday at the park's headquarters in Gatlinburg, Tenn.

The national park is one of the country's most popular with more
than nine million visitors last year. It's also among few that
don't charge an entrance fee. The park requires those staying
overnight in the nearly 90 backcountry sites to get a permit. But
the reservations office is open just three hours a day because of
staffing shortages.

Campers complain that lack of oversight means people take
campsites without reservations, leave garbage, and bring dogs that
aren't allowed.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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