The Adirondack Almanack published several posts on the subject, including one by me in which I argued against charging hikers. Thinking the public would like to hear other opinions, I later assigned a reporter, Kelly de la Rocha, to look into the issue for Adirondack Explorer.
Tony Goodwin, editor of the Adirondack Mountain Club’s High Peaks guidebook, thinks fining hikers in cases of gross carelessness might be a deterrent. “As long as we accept the fact that we want to encourage people to use the backcountry, there are going to be accidents that have to be dealt with and there are going to be people who are unprepared, but perhaps the most grossly unprepared, unknowledgeable ones can suffer some consequences that perhaps [would] give pause for others,” he said.Neil Woodworth, the club’s executive director, contends that a fine would be out of place if a rescue were necessitated by an accident. In cases of extreme negligence, he suggests that hikers be forced to pay a fee for a mandatory backcountry-education course.
New Hampshire is one of several states that do charge for rescues, if the hiker is deemed at fault. Kevin Jordan of that state’s Fish and Game Department rebutted suggestions that the policy scares away tourists or deters people in trouble from seeking help. “We’re getting calls just as frequently as we always did,” he said.
Jordan said rescues can cost $1,000 to $60,000. From 2006 to 2011, the department billed for thirty-eight rescues, a total of $83,000. It has collected a little over $53,000 of the money owed.
You can read the full story in the Explorer (and the comments) by clicking here.
Photo: Stephen Mastaitis, with his wife Jane, following his rescue on Mount Marcy.
Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.