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Under the bill, the cost of a hike safe card would be $25 for an individual and $35 for a family. Jordan said the target is 5,000 cards, which would produce about $110,000 a year.

´╗┐Card would cover NH wilderness rescue costs

Committee chair Rep. Susan Almy, D Lebanon, and former chair Rep. Norm Major, R Plaistow, wondered why the agency had not included a group rate for organizations like the Boy Scouts or a recreation department who might take a group out on a hike.

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About 22,000 off road vehicles and 60,000 snowmobiles are registered each year.

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At a public hearing on House Bill 256 before the House Ways and Means Committee Tuesday, key committee members pushed agency officials to include a group rate for organizations such as the Boy Scouts or a town recreation department.

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The bill has the backing of the New Hampshire Off Highway Vehicle Association, whose president, Harry Brown, said it is long overdue.

Under the bill, those who pay the registration and license fees as well as the hike safe card holders would not be billed for searches and rescues.

From 2006 to 2012, his agency responded to 957 incidents, Jordan said, and the majority is for missing or injured hikers or climbers.

Currently $1 from boat, snowmobile and off road vehicle registration fees go into the fund, which raises about $180,000 a year. The shortfall comes out of the general fish and game fund, which is revenue from hunting and fishing licenses.

The bill's prime sponsor, House Minority Leader Gene Chandler, R Bartlett, said the situation Nike Air Vapormax Explorer is not Nike Air Uptempo Red And White

The hike safe card is modeled after a similar program in Colorado that has been in place for a number of years. Local hiking organizations and groups like the Appalachian Mountain Club have Nike Air Total Max Uptempo Neon

said they will promote the cards.

"This doesn't solve the problem, but it is a good first step," he said. "The highest department estimate (of what the card would produce) is still short of what the department needs long term."

CONCORD Fish and Game Department officials hope a new "Hike Safe" card provides about $110,000 for search and rescue operations.

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Hikers who purchased the card would not be billed if they ever needed to be rescued.

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But Almy asked him to consider a group rate and said the committee would explore it as it discusses the bill.

Jordan said the policy would be if the leader had a hike safe card, others in the group would not be charged for a rescue.

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The Fish and Game Department and lawmakers have tried for years to find additional revenue to cover the cost of search and rescue operations, which cost more than $300,000 a year.

The House voted to preliminarily approve the bill that must pass scrutiny from the committee overseeing taxes and fees.

Yet hikers and climbers, who do not pay into the search and rescues fund, account for 57 percent of the missions, said Maj. Kevin Jordan, assistant chief of law enforcement for the department, while those who pay into the fund account for 14 percent of the missions.

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A commission studying alternative ways to raise revenue for the department would be continued under the bill, as would a committee looking at how best to pay for search and rescue operations.

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The state can charge hikers for the cost of the rescue, but most do not pay the bill.

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"What is killing us are the constant smaller calls," Jordan said.

going away and needs to be fixed.

Other rescues are for those who do pay registration fees and for licenses, and for missing persons or runaways.

"We like the playing field leveled," he told the committee. "It's unjust and unfair to have two groups who utilize (search and rescue) services very little bearing the costs. This is cost shifting."

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