North Country
8:53 am
Wed December 26, 2012

Bill Proposes Mandatory Fines For All Hiker Rescues

Credit BurningQuestion via Flickr Creative COmmons
Audio of newscast.

Hikers could be charged for their  rescues even if they didn’t do anything wrong under a bill being filed by the NH House’s top republican.

Currently much of the money for rescue operations carried out by New Hampshire Fish and Game comes from fees such as licenses for hunting, fishing and snowmobiles.

Only those guilty of the most reckless behavior risk having to pay for their rescues.

But rescues cost about $300,000 a year, says Major Kevin Jordan, of Fish and Game.

And with Fish and Game struggling to cover its costs Rep. Gene Chandler of Bartlett hopes to change the rules.

“We are setting up, I guess you could call it a fine system.”

Under Chandler’s bill any hiker requiring rescue– even if they only had a bit of bad luck and twisted a knee – would have to pay a fee.

“This is any rescue, even if someone isn’t negligent.”

As drafted, the minimum fee would be $350; the maximum $1,000. But Chandler says that could change.

Hikers could avoid being charged for their rescue by purchasing a newly-created $18 Hiker safety card that’s good for a year.

And the proposed rescue fines wouldn’t apply to anyone with a current NH hunting or fishing license, or who had registered their snowmobile, ATV or boat with the state.