Should All Hikers Help Pay for Search and Rescue? - 258 responses

Oct 14, 2013

Whenever a search and rescue operation takes place in New Hampshire, we celebrate as a society when lives are saved and collectively grieve when anyone is lost. However, the stark reality behind such missions is they cost a tremendous amount of money, and so the very real question is who foots the bill?

If current legislative efforts are any indication, hikers and climbers may soon be asked to “pitch in,” as NH Fish and Game Department officials cite an increased demand for such services coupled with inadequate funding. As quoted in the Concord Monitor, Fish and Game’s Maj. Kevin Jordan said, ‘“We are not making it. We are looking down the road. We are in trouble if we don’t do something.”’

Despite Fish and Game’s assertion that more than half of all search and rescue operations in the state involve hikers and climbers, however, Live Free or Die (LFDA) Facebook members seemed divided when asked, on October 14th search and rescue fund?”

In soliciting opinions for this subject, the LFDA received 258 citizen responses, including specific comments from 136 individuals supported by 100 concurrences. Forty percent of respondents agreed with current legislative efforts and 37 percent voiced their disapproval.

For those 37 percent against such legislation, the majority felt current laws are adequate, as hikers that are found negligent may be billed by Fish and Game for the cost of the rescue. “If they are not smart enough to prevent needing rescue, they should take responsibility and pay for their mistakes,” said one gentleman.

Such a position does nothing to address the fundamental problem, though, which is that revenue generated by hunting, fishing, boating, snowmobiling, and ATV licensing fees fall short each year. Moreover, Fish and Game officials note efforts to collect what they bill negligent hikers/climbers have largely been unsuccessful.

According to many the 40 percent who were in favor of new legislation, what amounts to an $18 dollar hiker’s annual insurance policy makes sense, especially given the fact it would be voluntary rather than required. “I like this idea as it is an opt-in program that will protect hikers from huge bills if something tragic happens and help recoup the costs of [search and rescues],” said one respondent.

While 23 percent did not express an obvious position, many in this group touched on a concern expressed by those on both sides of the issue, namely the opinion that there were already too many state regulations.

The nonprofit, nonpartisan LFDA takes no position on this or any issue. Rather, we present this report as a summary of citizen testimony on this subject. As New Hampshire’s Virtual Town Hall , the LFDA, now numbering over 20,000, provides objective information on state issues, promotes the civil exchange of opinions, and communicates views to elected officials. To learn more about this issue or the LFDA, visit www.lfda.org.

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