EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 9, 2014

N.H. moves forward with hike safe card


The Eagle-Tribune

---- — CONCORD (AP) — The New Hampshire House voted yesterday to give the preliminary OK to giving negligent hikers a chance to buy a hike safe card that forgives rescue expenses they would otherwise owe the state.

The House asked the Ways and Means Committee to review a bill that authorizes the Fish and Game Department to sell voluntary hike safe cards for $25 per person and $35 per family. People who obtain the cards would not be liable to repay rescue costs if their rescue was due to negligence on their part.

The bill also would exempt people with hunting and fishing licenses and anyone with an off-highway recreational vehicle registration, including for a snowmobile.

Hunters, anglers, boaters, snowmobilers and all-terrain vehicle riders currently pay almost all the rescue costs though license fees to the agency, but averaged only 14 percent of the rescues since 2006.

The department has struggled to keep up with the cost of rescues, which are primarily for helping lost or injured hikers.

Rescue costs have ranged from about $200 to more than $50,000.

State law holds those rescued liable if they acted negligently, but efforts to collect the cost of rescues is not always successful.

All but $3 from each hike safe card would be deposited in the agency’s search and rescue fund.