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Vermont Nixes Skier Rescue Fee

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Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Backcountry skiers heading to Vermont can leave the $500 for their impending fine at home, at least for now.

A Vermont bill proposing a $500 fine for any skiers needing rescue after venturing into the back country from a lift-served resort has been dismissed by the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee, the Boston Globe reports.

The bill was proposed, in part, because of the large number of skiers requiring rescue this winter.

“State Police rescue units have participated in 15 backcountry searches for 50 lost skiers this winter,” notes the Burlington Free Press, “with 48 of the skiers getting lost after they ventured off the designated trails at the Killington and Pico ski resorts.”

The legislation, which was proposed by Vermont state senator Kevin Mullen, would have imposed “fines of up to $500 for deliberately skiing out of bounds at a Vermont resort,” reports the Rutland Herald.

“We have to send a clear message,” Mullin told the Herald, “that when they do this and we have to send the rescue squads in, it’s costing the taxpayers of the state of Vermont a lot of money.”

But so far it is the backcountry skiers of Vermont who have sent a message to the state Senate, rather than the other way around.

“Backcountry skiing is really a jewel in the crown of Vermont,” offered David Goodman, author of Best Backcountry Skiing in the Northeast. “If people approach the sport with the right gear and a good sense of where they’re going, the result is often a spectacular winter day.”

The proposed legislation, backcountry enthusiasts feel, would have a negative impact on the state’s economy.

“My chief concern is seeing anything that says, “Vermont bans backcountry skiing,”” says Adam Howard, editor of Backcountry magazine, which is published in Vermont. Howard told the Senate Judiciary Committee that “20 percent of skiing and snowboarding takes place outside the boundaries of ski areas,” reports SkiTheEast.com.

While the bill will likely be reconsidered next year, it doesn’t appear to have much momentum going forward.

“If we start criminalizing what we all think is dumb,” said state senator Joe Benning, “we’d have an endless avalanche of legislation.”

Pun intended?•

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