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Thread: F&G at Breaking Point for Rescue Funding

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    Senior Member ChrisB's Avatar
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    F&G at Breaking Point for Rescue Funding

    Wow,

    This article describes how NH F&G is hoping to have the Feds assume responsibility and cost for all rescues in the National Forest lands.

    What might that mean for volunteer responders and for those in need?

    And it looks like Hike Safe is not produced the windfall hoped for...

    ..."The voluntary Hike Safe Card program introduced in 2015 is generating between $75,000 and $120,000 a year for the search and rescue fund, but is an unpredictable revenue source."


    cb
    Last edited by ChrisB; 10-08-2018 at 10:02 AM.
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    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
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    From the Article:

    Fish and Game has calculated that 47 percent of all search and rescue operations take place in the WMNF, with no help from the federal government, except in the area of the Cutler River Drainage, where the U.S. Forest Service is responsible for search and rescue during the winter.

    “The White Mountain National Forest is where most of them are occurring,” says Col. Kevin Jordan, chief of law enforcement at Fish and Game. “The Forest Service pays for local law enforcement to patrol their properties and the commission felt if they are paying for that, they should pay for search and rescue. It’s a nationwide issue, not unique to New Hampshire.”


    Now I'm not a mathamagician, but to me, 47% seems like less than most. Maybe they meant 'the most' out of a list of regions, but based on their own data, it's not where most rescues take place.

    It also feels disingenuous to me, by arguing that since it's federal land, and the rescues happen there, that it's a federal problem - given that NH reaps the rewards of having this natural resource in the state. I can say with confidence that the mountains attract more than enough money to cover the cost of the recuses, and some lawmakers are either too stingy or obtuse to admit it. Imagine if the feds 'closed' the Whites - would NH 'save' money on rescues, or lose money on lost tourism?
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    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJsName View Post
    . I can say with confidence that the mountains attract more than enough money to cover the cost of the recuses, and some lawmakers are either too stingy or obtuse to admit it. Imagine if the feds 'closed' the Whites - would NH 'save' money on rescues, or lose money on lost tourism?
    I disagree with this line of thinking. Why is it that out of State folks feel they are entitled for The State of New Hampshire to pick up the tab when they are rescued. If I go to NY fall and break a leg I don't expect The State of NY to pay for it. I've heard the argument that New Hampshire markets itself for tourism therefore it should be responsible for incidental costs. It's not like NH residents do not leave their own State and spend money elsewhere. I have spent a lot of time and money in the ADK over the years and I do not expect anything in return other than the awesome experience and memories I already have.
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    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
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    Interesting response. I'll try to break it down.



    Quote Originally Posted by skiguy View Post
    I disagree with this line of thinking. Why is it that out of State folks feel they are entitled for The State of New Hampshire to pick up the tab when they are rescued.
    1.) I'm not sure that out of state folks feel 'entitled' beyond how, being a person entitles one to receive emergency services if they are in need of help, regardless of where they are. Note I use 'entitles' as a transitive verb. The word 'entitled', when used as an adjective, I find is used as a buzz word - invoked by certain groups/people to claim that others are less deserving of something because of unreasonable expectations projected upon them. I find this argument disingenuous at best, due to it's invocation of ambiguity. While this might be your opinion - it's just that. But you are entitled to it.

    Quote Originally Posted by skiguy View Post
    If I go to NY fall and break a leg I don't expect The State of NY to pay for it.
    2.) I don't expect the state of NY to pay for your broken leg either. Perhaps you are arguing that health insurance should cover rescue costs, similar to an ambulance ride? It's an interesting idea, but I honestly don't know if that's what you meant.

    Quote Originally Posted by skiguy View Post
    I've heard the argument that New Hampshire markets itself for tourism therefore it should be responsible for incidental costs.
    3.) The argument I made isn't based on it's marketing so much as it's actual value gained from the resource. I'd make the same argument even if NH put of signs telling people not to come and that mountains are stupid. NH is looking for federal money, some of which could come from people that have nothing to do with NH, so how is that fair when NH can pay for it?

    Quote Originally Posted by skiguy View Post
    It's not like NH residents do not leave their own State and spend money elsewhere.
    4.) Difficult to argue with this, but I think the connotation I think you are implying is addressed in the previous point, and perhaps in point one (1) as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by skiguy View Post
    I have spent a lot of time and money in the ADK over the years and I do not expect anything in return other than the awesome experience and memories I already have.
    5.) Good for you! However, this isn't about one individual's experience, but about the population as a whole. Like it or not, we live in a society and that means we look after one another. While abuses of that social contract do occur, I'm willing to bet that few people are intentionally hurting themselves in the woods to get a free ride back down.
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    Senior Member ChrisB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skiguy View Post
    .... Why is it that out of State folks feel they are entitled for The State of New Hampshire to pick up the tab when they are rescued. If I go to NY fall and break a leg I don't expect The State of NY to pay for it.
    This raises a question for me: How is the cost of a rescue funded in other ranges? For example, in Maine, in the ADKs, in Colorado, in the Sierras, etc. etc.

    Is this rescue funding problem unique to the Live Free or Die state?

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    Senior Member RollingRock's Avatar
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    The Fish and Game is underfunded for one reason...lawmakers don't want to raise taxes to take care of the agency as well as other agencies.

    Because of that the F&G is scrambling to find funding, blaming it on 'search and rescue' and now looking for federal government assistance...the State certainly does not want to help.

    I don't have data about funding issues at other mountain search and rescue operations in other states. Since I don't read about them having any issues, I have to assume they are appropriately funded by their State.

    Here is a FAQ from the Colorado Search And Rescue Board. It appears county sheriff is responsible for Search and Rescue and bears the cost. It states, " If you, a member of your party or an immediate relative is a Colorado-licensed hunter or fisherman, have registered a boat, snowmobile or off-road vehicle, or have purchased a "Colorado Outdoor Recreation SAR Card," the county sheriff and the SAR units can be reimbursed for expenses by the Colorado SAR Fund, which is funded by those sportsmen and recreationalists. Volunteer Search and Rescue teams do not charge for their services however if the volunteer fire department gets involved, it appears they will charge.

    Sharing this info so there is a reference to what another State does compared to NH for further discussion.
    Last edited by RollingRock; 10-08-2018 at 09:57 PM.
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    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    Moderator Note - I moved this to Q&A New England since it is NH specific.

    Also, if you haven't been here very long, New-Hampshire-Fish-and-Game-Search-and-Rescue-Funding-Hearing contains an exhaustive discussion of funding Search And Rescue in NH and in other states, and how we got to the Hike Safe card in the first place.

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    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJsName View Post
    Interesting response. I'll try to break it down.




    1.) I'm not sure that out of state folks feel 'entitled' beyond how, being a person entitles one to receive emergency services if they are in need of help, regardless of where they are. Note I use 'entitles' as a transitive verb. The word 'entitled', when used as an adjective, I find is used as a buzz word - invoked by certain groups/people to claim that others are less deserving of something because of unreasonable expectations projected upon them. I find this argument disingenuous at best, due to it's invocation of ambiguity. While this might be your opinion - it's just that. But you are entitled to it.


    2.) I don't expect the state of NY to pay for your broken leg either. Perhaps you are arguing that health insurance should cover rescue costs, similar to an ambulance ride? It's an interesting idea, but I honestly don't know if that's what you meant.


    3.) The argument I made isn't based on it's marketing so much as it's actual value gained from the resource. I'd make the same argument even if NH put of signs telling people not to come and that mountains are stupid. NH is looking for federal money, some of which could come from people that have nothing to do with NH, so how is that fair when NH can pay for it?


    4.) Difficult to argue with this, but I think the connotation I think you are implying is addressed in the previous point, and perhaps in point one (1) as well.


    5.) Good for you! However, this isn't about one individual's experience, but about the population as a whole. Like it or not, we live in a society and that means we look after one another. While abuses of that social contract do occur, I'm willing to bet that few people are intentionally hurting themselves in the woods to get a free ride back down.
    Feel free to parse my words with your rehtorical web to fit your beliefs but my point was that I do not agree with your line of thinking. I did not mention anything about agreeing with acquiring Federal Money as a solution. What I am saying is that many folks feel entitled to services from the state of NH when they shouldn’t be. My use of the word “entitled” has nothing to do with infringing a buzz word. It is used to convey the concept that some believe oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment. I am in no way using the word “entitled” to infer a comparison that others may be less deserving. Of course anyone is deserving of a rescue. It’s about how it gets paid for. Mainly taking responsibility for one’s own actions. To infer I am being ambiguous and also disengenuous is a figment of your own imagination. Being concrete I also find your insinuation that The State of NH has plenty of money to cover these costs and politicians are just being stingy just your opinion unless you have corroborative facts to support that Statement.
    Last edited by skiguy; 10-09-2018 at 12:04 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skiguy View Post
    Feel free to parse my words with your rehtorical web to fit your beliefs but my point was that I do not agree with your line of thinking. I did not mention anything about agreeing with acquiring Federal Money as a solution. What I am saying is that many folks feel entitled to services from the state of NH when they shouldn’t be. My use of the word “entitled” has nothing to do with infringing a buzz word. It is used to convey the concept that some believe oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment. I am in no way using the word “entitled” to infer a comparison that others may be less deserving. Of course anyone is deserving of a rescue. It’s about how it gets paid for. Mainly taking responsibility for one’s own actions. To infer I am being ambiguous and also disengenuous is a figment of your own imagination. Being concrete I also find your insinuation that The State of NH has plenty of money to cover these costs and politicians are just being stingy just your opinion unless you have corroborative facts to support that Statement.
    If I understand you correctly, you agree that search and/or rescue of someone lost or immobilized in the woods it should be a government function. And that this government assistance can and should be expected by ATVers, snowmobilers, skiers, hikers, hunters, fishermen, children, elderly, etc.

    But you do not agree this government assistance should be free regardless of what State the person resides in; similar to how the assistance of the NH State Police at the scene of a car accident is free (regardless of who caused the accident or what State they live in).

    Instead, you would like to see these costs changed to a fee based government function similar to a marriage license OR a free service for NH residents & a fee service for everyone else.

    Since you also seem to believe that most Search & Rescues expenditures are avoidable costs caused by unprepared, out of state, hikers, I imagine you feel those people are taking advantage of the State of New Hampshire.

    Yes?

    The NH F&G department does not seem to share your opinion that S&R should be fee based service OR a free service for NH residents & a fee service for everyone else.

    The NH F&G does seem to support the current NH law that the costs of a S&R should be borne by the recipient of those service only if they are determined to have been reckless, regardless of what state they live in.
    Last edited by Tom_Murphy; 10-09-2018 at 01:20 PM. Reason: more thoughts

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    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom_Murphy View Post
    If I understand you correctly, you agree that search and/or rescue of someone lost or immobilized in the woods it should be a government function. And that this government assistance can and should be expected by ATVers, snowmobilers, skiers, hikers, hunters, fishermen, children, elderly, etc.

    But you do not agree this government assistance should be free regardless of what State the person resides in; similar to how the assistance of the NH State Police at the scene of a car accident is free (regardless of who caused the accident or what State they live in).

    Instead, you would like to see these costs changed to a fee based government function similar to a marriage license OR a free service for NH residents & a fee service for everyone else.

    Since you also seem to believe that most Search & Rescues expenditures are avoidable costs caused by unprepared, out of state, hikers, I imagine you feel those people are taking advantage of the State of New Hampshire.

    Yes?

    The NH F&G department does not seem to share your opinion that S&R should be fee based service OR a free service for NH residents & a fee service for everyone else.

    The NH F&G does seem to support the current NH law that the costs of a S&R should be borne by the recipient of those service only if they are determined to have been reckless, regardless of what state they live in.
    First of all I as a New Hampshire Resident I do not expect to be exempt from being charged. That should be a flat fee across the board. If anything I have been a bearer of a NH Fishing License, pay my Taxes, buy my food and gas just like anyone else from out of state. I make a contribution just like everyone else that is a resident. Fish and Game is entitled to their opinion. I do not agree with it. F&G is not in the business of legislating fiscal policy nor is it their background or training. Leave that to the legislators. I do believe they should be involved with other parts of overall outdoor use but not the money. I do find a dichotomy in their line of thinking. No I do not believe that most costs are avoidable because they are caused by unprepared out of State Hikers. That's putting words in my mouth. I do believe that everyone should pay for their services provided by F&G. Maybe if they did they would not be hurting for money.
    Last edited by skiguy; 10-09-2018 at 02:35 PM.
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    Senior Member griffin's Avatar
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    The feds already give money to NH to cover costs associated with the WMNF - Per Craig's post from eons ago :

    "Payments in Lieu of Taxes" (or PILT) are Federal payments to local governments that help offset losses in property taxes due to nontaxable Federal lands within their boundaries. The key law that implements the payments is Public Law 94-565, dated October 20, 1976. This law was rewritten and amended by Public Law 97-258 on September 13, 1982 and codified at Chapter 69, Title 31 of the United States Code. The Law recognizes that the inability of local governments to collect property taxes on Federally-owned land can create a financial impact.
    PILT payments help local governments carry out such vital services as firefighting and police protection, construction of public schools and roads, and search-and-rescue operations. The payments are made annually for tax-exempt Federal lands administered by the BLM, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (all agencies of the Interior Department), the U.S. Forest service (part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture), and for Federal water projects and some military installations. PILT payments are one of the ways that the Federal government can fulfill its role of being a good neighbor to local communities.
    Over $2,000,000 in FY2018 (you can see the total, and a breakdown by town and county here: https://www.nbc.gov/pilt/counties.cf...38&Search.y=12 )

    Maybe divert some of that search and rescue funding to the agency doing the searching and rescuing?
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    PILT's have a bad reputation in the region. The National Forest has a funding formula to calculate the PILT. For many years the actual payments have been substantially less than the formula calls out as the government does not fund the program fully. Not sure the current level of under funding but its generally less than 50%.

    NH is very dependent on property taxes so not paying the PILTs fully for year on end is major impact to budgets. F&G does not get to touch the PILTs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    F&G does not get to touch the PILTs.
    I followed the links back to this U.S. Department of the Interior web site, https://www.doi.gov/pilt.

    6/26/2018: PILT payments totaling $552.8 million were made to over 1,900 local governments.

    STATE
    New Hampshire

    FY 2016 PAYMENT
    $1,911,880

    FY 2017 PAYMENT
    $1,898,963

    FY 2018 PAYMENT
    $2,036,937

    This new information (to me) makes me think the issue is not a lack of Federal Funds but that the NH State Legislature is not earmarking those Federal funds for their intended purpose.

    Or the NH State Legislature are prioritizing the other intended purposes for these funds [firefighting and police protection, construction of public schools and roads] over the search-and-rescue operation.

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    My understanding is the state doesn't get the PILT, the towns get it directly for lands in federal control within the town with the county getting the payments for lands in the unincorporated areas, therefore unless the state dumps another unfunded mandate to manage S&R on the towns and counties I dont see F&G getting any of that funding.

    Note that this is not a special payment, its just partial compensation to towns and counties for some of the lost property taxes from land that could be developed. An extreme example is Errol NH, the Umbagog Wildlife refuge has been actively buying camps on the lake some of which are valued quite high and tearing them down. The town loses the property tax revenue for a seasonal home that requires few services and its replaced by a partially funded PILT payment on raw land. There is talk that Errol may end up disincorporating as they can not afford to run the town.

    IMHO Room and meals is the far more logical piggybank to raid as its tied directly to tourism. This is administered by the state.

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    Senior Member Brambor's Avatar
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    We are so NIMBYfied. It's sickening.

    Just leave the bodies in the woods. Just like Everest.
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