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N.H. Senate panel considers hike safe card program

  • Ann McLane Custer speaks at a house party in Canaan to get to know her possible constituents should she be elected for the second Congressional seat on Thursday, May 20, 2010.<br/><br/>(Katie Barnes/Monitor staff)

    Ann McLane Custer speaks at a house party in Canaan to get to know her possible constituents should she be elected for the second Congressional seat on Thursday, May 20, 2010.

    (Katie Barnes/Monitor staff)

  • Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H., speaks to a reporter during an interview, Monday, March 24, 2008 in Concord, N.H. Shea-Porter has returned from her second visit to Iraq, where she met with General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, visited American troops, and toured an Iraqi marketplace. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

    Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H., speaks to a reporter during an interview, Monday, March 24, 2008 in Concord, N.H. Shea-Porter has returned from her second visit to Iraq, where she met with General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, visited American troops, and toured an Iraqi marketplace. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

  • Ann McLane Custer speaks at a house party in Canaan to get to know her possible constituents should she be elected for the second Congressional seat on Thursday, May 20, 2010.<br/><br/>(Katie Barnes/Monitor staff)
  • Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H., speaks to a reporter during an interview, Monday, March 24, 2008 in Concord, N.H. Shea-Porter has returned from her second visit to Iraq, where she met with General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, visited American troops, and toured an Iraqi marketplace. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

A Senate committee is holding a hearing on whether to forgive hikers for any rescue expenses they’d otherwise owe New Hampshire for being negligent and getting into trouble if they buy a hike safe card.

Tomorrow’s hearing is on a House-passed 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 pay almost all the rescue costs through license fees to the agency but account for only about 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 who wander off a trail or find themselves unprepared for adverse weather. 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 are not always successful.

Associated Press

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