Legislative Hearing To Weigh Search and Rescue Fees

Extra Revenue would help solve shortfall in Fish and Game rescue fund

What is happening on January 31, 2013?

A hearing on the Search and Rescue (SAR) Funding bill has been scheduled for January 31st in Room 307 at the Legislative Office Building on State Street in Concord. The hearings begin at 1:30PM. 

There are two bills being debated.  The first bill HB199 prohibits money in the SAR fund from being used for training or regular pay of officers.

The second bill HB256-FN proposes fees to be charged when there is a Search and Rescue.  Anyone who has already contributed to the fund (like Snowmobilers, ATV Riders, Hunters, Boaters, etc) will automatically be exempt from any charges.  The bill also proposes the establishment of a "Hike Safe" card which could be purchased by hikers.  The fees from this card would go into the SAR fund and these hikers would be exempt from the new SAR fees. 

What can I do to help?

You can show up at the hearing and testify or send a letter to your legislator backing up this bill.

How many Search and Rescue Missions occur in New Hampshire and what is the cost of these missions?

Over the past five years Fish and Game has conducted approximately 957 search and rescue missions at an approximate cost of 1.8 Million Dollars. 

Who pays for these search and rescue missions?

The funding for Search and Rescue comes from the following sources:  $1.00 fee added to every boat, OHRV, and snow machine registration these additional fees are then deposited into the Search and Rescue account. Hunting and Fishing License fees cover any costs above and beyond what boat, OHRV and snow machine registrations bring into the Agency annually.  No tax dollars are used for these missions.

What groups receive the services of Search and Rescue in New Hampshire?

Hunters, Anglers, Snowmobilers, Boaters and ATV riders combined utilize 14% of the total services of search and rescue.  Climbers and hikers utilize 57% of all services and 43% of all search and rescue missions are conducted on the White Mountain National Forest Properties. 

What about children who runaway or become lost and the elderly person who become missing.  How many services do these require?

The elderly, missing children and medical escapes from facilities are usually a high profile case for the news outlets and as a result they receive large amounts of press coverage.  The fact is they only account for approximately 17% of all search and rescue services each year. 

How much money is spent on Search and Rescue each year?

Over the past three years our expenditures for search and rescue average approximately three hundred sixty six thousand dollars annually to conduct these missions.

I thought we made people pay for search and rescue?

In June of 2008 a law was passed authorizing us to bill negligent hikers.  This means if a person’s behavior was negligent and as a result of their negligent actions a search mission had to be initiated, they can be billed for the total costs of the mission. While this change in the law has assisted us it falls far short of supporting the search and rescue program.

Sportsmen and motorized recreation enthusiasts paying for all of these services hardly seem fair, what can be done to change this? 

Over the past twenty years New Hampshire Fish and Game has submitted a dozen different ideas and legislative bills to the Legislature for considerations in effort to meet these financial shortfalls and almost have failed to pass to date.  We need the legislature to pass this bill so the revenue base can be expanded to include hikers (who are the largest segment using SAR services) and this will help close the shortfall.

 

Please send an email to your Senator and Representative using the following links to find their email address:

List of NH Representatives

List of NH Senators

 

Sample Letter from Motorized Recreationalist that you can send to your NH Senator or Representative:

Dear Elected Representative __________________________,

As I’m sure you are also aware, the New Hampshire Fish & Game Department is a self-funded agency.  It is funded primarily by the sale of hunting and fishing licenses but all motorized recreationalists contribute funding as well.  During the last several years because of insufficient search and rescue funds from hunting and fishing licenses and money from registration fees have had to make up for any and all of the shortfalls. From our perspective this is unfair!

With the increasing popularity of recreation based tourism, coupled with the emergence of modern technologies, far more rescues are being performed now than 40 years ago when this funding mechanism was instituted.

Today, the system is breaking under the strain.  The motorized recreationalists of New Hampshire are being financially “taxed”.  The NHF&G Dept., along with the many volunteer S&R groups, are being physically “taxed” to the limit as well. 

It is time that the State Government of New Hampshire no longer sits quietly on the sideline as if this problem belongs to someone else.  I, as a motorized recreationalist of New Hampshire, am imploring you to find a way to fund Search and Rescue that is fair and equitable

It is not my responsibly to continue to pay for the cost of Search and Rescue for those that need it the most in New Hampshire, it is yours.  As my elected representative, I am challenging you to find a solution to this problem.

 

 My name:                                                                             

                              (Print Name)

 Signature:                                                                             

                             

 Town:                                                                                     

 

Sample Letter from Sportsmen/Women that you can send to your NH Senator or Representative:

Dear Elected Representative __________________________,

As I’m sure you are also aware, the New Hampshire Fish & Game Department is a self-funded agency.  It is funded primarily by the sale of hunting and fishing licenses.  Sportsmen and sportswomen bear much of the costs to ensure conservation measures are properly regulated and funded with this agency.  During the last several years because of insufficient search and rescue funds sportsmen and women have had to make up for any and all of the shortfalls. From our perspective this is unfair!

With the increasing popularity of recreation based tourism, coupled with the emergence of modern technologies, far more rescues are being performed now than 40 years ago when this funding mechanism was instituted. 

Today, the system is breaking under the strain.  The sportsmen and sportswomen of New Hampshire are being financially “taxed”.  The NHF&G Dept., along with the many volunteer S&R groups, are being physically “taxed” to the limit as well. 

It is time that the State Government of New Hampshire no longer sits quietly on the sideline as if this problem belongs to someone else.  I, as a sportsman or sportswoman of New Hampshire, am imploring you to find a way to fund Search and Rescue that is fair and equitable

It is not my responsibly to continue to pay for the cost of Search and Rescue for those that need it the most in New Hampshire, it is yours.  As my elected representative, I am challenging you to find a solution to this problem.

 

 My name:                                                                             

                              (Print Name)

Signature:                                                                              

                             

 Town:                                                                                     

 

 

 

 

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