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Old 10-12-2017, 03:30 PM   #21
Trail Boss
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+1

Summit Steward program did great things to educate hikers about summit ecology. Upshot: protect the resource from the hikers.

Trailhead Steward program is poised to do great things to educate hikers about correct behavior on trails. Upshot: protect the hikers from the resource!


Definitely agree they can positively influence what a hiker experiences, potentially even prevent a hiker from becoming a statistic (injury, distress, lost). Take the shorter destination, wear appropriate footwear, bring a headlamp, etc all help to improve a visiting hiker's "backcountry experience" and potentially avoid a 911 call (with an expensive taxpayer-funded response). An ounce of prevention is worth etc.


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@bounder45
I spend a lot of my free time hiking in the High Peaks. I would have no problem forking over $25 annually for the peace of mind it affords. However, it would be nice if that $25 actually gets to where it needs to go!

As for the backpacker with the wonky hip, I believe the key factor was it had a history of failure. To a reasonable person it would come as no surprise that a backpacking trip up over Lafayette would subject that unreliable hip to forces more extreme than just getting around town. So when it dislocated when he tried to hop up, azz-first, onto a table-height ledge, its failure was no surprise to a reasonable person. He argued his doctor had cleared him for the hike, which admittedly sounds very compelling, but not to the judge. I forget how many thousands of dollars the rescue cost him but it was quite expensive because he had to be carried down in a litter by a small army of rangers.
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Old 10-12-2017, 03:56 PM   #22
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Had an interesting take on this subject from a US Park Ranger at the Grand Canyon two summers ago. Saw a young mother with her 3 year old or so daughter with their feet dangling off an eight foot wide promontory jutting out into the canyon on the wrong side of the trail wall. Corralled a young park ranger and pointed it out to her. She told me the national parks belonged to the people and we all had a perfect right to get killed in them without interference as long as we didn't cause a mess that required a clean up. The same situation on the Brooklyn Bridge would have brought the entire NYC PD running.
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Old 10-12-2017, 04:03 PM   #23
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I spend a lot of my free time hiking in the High Peaks. I would have no problem forking over $25 annually for the peace of mind it affords. However, it would be nice if that $25 actually gets to where it needs to go!
I agree. The $25 up front fee should be dedicated towards trail maintenance, wildlife surveys or general conservation use (that's something that could be mandated by legislation, similar to how hunting/fishing license fees are required to go towards conservation efforts). In theory, someone who is willing to pay that fee up front would be a little bit more appreciative of the wilderness in general and should be less likely to require a rescue...but if they end up requiring a rescue, the state has gotten at least some compensation in return.


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As for the backpacker with the wonky hip, I believe the key factor was it had a history of failure. To a reasonable person it would come as no surprise that a backpacking trip up over Lafayette would subject that unreliable hip to forces more extreme than just getting around town. So when it dislocated when he tried to hop up, azz-first, onto a table-height ledge, its failure was no surprise to a reasonable person. He argued his doctor had cleared him for the hike, which admittedly sounds very compelling, but not to the judge. I forget how many thousands of dollars the rescue cost him but it was quite expensive because he had to be carried down in a litter by a small army of rangers.
Again, I have no problem with similar legislation being enacted in NY. Far too many of the rescues I read about in the Ranger highlights come about because of pure negligence. People should be cited and fined if the responding Ranger or LEO deem that there was negligence. There are more people visiting the ADK's; statistically that means there will be more people out there who have poor judgement or lack decision-making skills. Educational pamphlets won't fix their unpreparedness; the threat of a fine will.

Last edited by Bounder45; 10-12-2017 at 04:20 PM..
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Old 10-12-2017, 04:37 PM   #24
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We've got people going out without even the thought to have a map, but they are going to remember to buy a permit or a hike safe card? I'm totally for a permit system or a small fee going directly to the park for users, but how do you enforce it? As someone stated above, when there was a permit system, the receptacles were overflowing with unchecked permits and made it on to the trail as trash.
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Old 10-12-2017, 04:58 PM   #25
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We've got people going out without even the thought to have a map, but they are going to remember to buy a permit or a hike safe card? I'm totally for a permit system or a small fee going directly to the park for users, but how do you enforce it? As someone stated above, when there was a permit system, the receptacles were overflowing with unchecked permits and made it on to the trail as trash.
That's the great thing about the NH Hike Safe card, it's voluntary. You're not required to buy it so it's not something that needs to be actively enforced, only if a search and rescue event occurs. And it can either be printed out at home or saved as a PDF to your mobile device

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A law passed in 2014 authorizes the NH Fish and Game Department to sell a voluntary hike safe card for $25 per person and $35 per family. People who obtain the cards will not be liable to repay rescue costs if they need to be rescued due to negligence on their part, regardless of whether they are hiking, boating, cross country skiing, hunting, or engaging in any other outdoor activity. An individual may still be liable for response expenses, however, if such person is deemed to have recklessly or to have intentionally created a situation requiring an emergency response.

People who possess a current New Hampshire Fish and Game hunting or fishing license, or a current registration for an off-highway recreational vehicle, snowmobile or boat, will also be exempt from repaying rescue costs due to negligence.
http://hikesafe.com/index.php?page=t...hike-safe-card
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Old 10-12-2017, 05:02 PM   #26
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We've got people going out without even the thought to have a map, but they are going to remember to buy a permit or a hike safe card? I'm totally for a permit system or a small fee going directly to the park for users, but how do you enforce it? As someone stated above, when there was a permit system, the receptacles were overflowing with unchecked permits and made it on to the trail as trash.
For what it's worth, I have seen a lot of positive changes in recent years in areas that I have visited often for over 30+ years now, mostly because of an increased DEC related presence checking up on folks & performing preventive protections to the resource. I would venture to guess that in many areas of the Adirondacks things are also much better than they were 20 years ago, and there's always room for a little more improvement. I do not share the negative belief that just because something that didn't work two decades ago, it would not make a positive differnece today if properly executed.
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Old 10-12-2017, 05:33 PM   #27
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That's the great thing about the NH Hike Safe card, it's voluntary. You're not required to buy it so it's not something that needs to be actively enforced, only if a search and rescue event occurs. And it can either be printed out at home or saved as a PDF to your mobile device



http://hikesafe.com/index.php?page=t...hike-safe-card
And I have one(NH Hike Safe Card).

I wonder if anyone has ever done the breakdown on what percentage Hike Safe Card owners make of hikers needing rescue in NH.

I think the real issue here is NY State's failure to adequately support the mission in the Adirondacks with $$ and more rangers, while at the same time ceaselessly encouraging more tourism to the area with their ad campaigns and blue highway signs.

Same thing in NH. They're complaining about all the money spent on rescues, but ignore the tremendous tourism dollars they are getting in their state from all the hikers.

Cheap, cheap, cheap.

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Old 10-13-2017, 09:47 AM   #28
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... As someone stated above, when there was a permit system, the receptacles were overflowing with unchecked permits and made it on to the trail as trash.
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...I do not share the negative belief that just because something that didn't work two decades ago, it would not make a positive difference today if properly executed.
It's my understanding that the purpose of the "self-issuing permit" was simply to count heads. The DEC wanted insight into High Peaks usage. You filled out a registration form, deposited it in the box, then attached a hang-tag to your pack. The tag served as visible evidence you had (ostensibly) completed the registration process.

The data was used to produce a report (it's posted somewhere; I can't find the link right now).

Speculation: I guess after the data had been collected for analysis, additional data was no longer required but the forms and boxes were still in operation (awaiting removal). This might explain why they appeared to be stuffed with uncollected forms.
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Old 10-13-2017, 09:56 AM   #29
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I think the real issue here is NY State's failure to adequately support the mission in the Adirondacks with $$ and more rangers, while at the same time ceaselessly encouraging more tourism to the area with their ad campaigns and blue highway signs.

How is spending more $ or increasing the Ranger force going to decrease the # of rescues? If anything, it will increase those #'s since people will feel like there is a bigger safety net to come and pick them up if they get into trouble.

If rescue #'s continue to rise, we're going to see more and more of the state budget spent on those efforts rather than on true conservation efforts.
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Old 10-13-2017, 10:17 AM   #30
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I think the gist is that there aren't enough rangers to service the existing workload (without running the current staff ragged).
15 Adirondack Forest Ranger Missions in 13 Days
I didn't see gebbyfish claim increased staffing would reduce the number of ranger missions.

I disagree with your theory that the presence of more rangers will have people become less cautious about their personal safety. If my community were to double the number of ambulances and EMT's, I wouldn't become less cautious at home.
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Old 10-13-2017, 10:30 AM   #31
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How is spending more $ or increasing the Ranger force going to decrease the # of rescues? If anything, it will increase those #'s since people will feel like there is a bigger safety net to come and pick them up if they get into trouble.

If rescue #'s continue to rise, we're going to see more and more of the state budget spent on those efforts rather than on true conservation efforts.
Did you ever read anything about Pete Fish and how he used to interact with hikers to educate?

That's a good way to teach people how to be safe on the trail and intervene before a rescue is necessary.

If the Trailhead Stewards can do it, imagine what an experienced ranger could do.

Good luck being a ranger and trying to educate today!

A guy like Pete Fish couldn't do what he did back then today as he would be too busy rescuing people.

Just on a shear volume level of hikers, it makes no sense that they have the same numbers of rangers that they did 10 or 20 years ago.
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Old 10-13-2017, 10:37 AM   #32
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The rangers presently are very busy with S&R. More rangers would allow for patrols and trail monitoring. In the old days one would often run across a ranger in the backcountry and be questioned about where you were headed/preparedness. Sometimes advice was given. Laws were enforced as rangers were out there to observe violations.

This would likely reduce the number of rescues.
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Old 10-13-2017, 10:50 AM   #33
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Old 10-13-2017, 11:26 AM   #34
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I disagree with your theory that the presence of more rangers will have people become less cautious about their personal safety. If my community were to double the number of ambulances and EMT's, I wouldn't become less cautious at home.
But if you took away all the EMT's, do you think we'd see as many deaths and/or injuries from risky behaviors? If all of a sudden we took away the Ranger force (which I'm not advocating for by the way), and those weekly 15 rescues turned into 15 deaths or missing person cases, do you think there'd be just as many people going out and getting lost in the following weeks?

I'd argue no. When people realize there are consequences for their actions and that their personal safety is in their hands, not someone else's, they'll be a lot more careful about how they behave.

Again, I'm all for having a Ranger force. And if the Rangers think they are being overworked, I'm all for assigning them more funding and increasing their manpower. However, it's important to understand that the Rangers, and the rescue capabilities they provide, serve as a response to an ongoing, and increasing, problem; their presence is not a solution.

We all agree that rescuing people in need is the humane thing to do. Even if someone got lost or hurt due to their own negligence, I think we all agree a rescue effort is warranted. If the possibility of a lonely death isn't going to dissuade ill-prepared hikers from going out, a hefty fine or some form of legal punishment might serve as a viable alternative.
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Old 10-13-2017, 12:12 PM   #35
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Again, I'm all for having a Ranger force. And if the Rangers think they are being overworked, I'm all for assigning them more funding and increasing their manpower. However, it's important to understand that the Rangers, and the rescue capabilities they provide, serve as a response to an ongoing, and increasing, problem; their presence is not a solution.

We all agree that rescuing people in need is the humane thing to do. Even if someone got lost or hurt due to their own negligence, I think we all agree a rescue effort is warranted. If the possibility of a lonely death isn't going to dissuade ill-prepared hikers from going out, a hefty fine or some form of legal punishment might serve as a viable alternative.
On busy weekends, there are often multiple SAR incidents going on simultaneously. For example, during the final day of the Alex Stevens incident, two helicopters were initially assigned, along with more than a dozen rangers and more than a handful of trained experienced DEC certified volunteer searchers. My search team was supposed to be flown in to Wallface, but one of the helos, along with several rangers had to be reassigned to another search in ST Lawrence County overnight. The other searched Wallface from the air and supported the remote basecamp search site. My team had to be bussed and walked several miles into our search assignment (disappointing, and time consuming, but not a big deal), along with rangers who might otherwise have been available as backup for some other emergency or other duty.

So in cases when multiple incidents develop we would be put into a situation wherein we choose who gets rescued first. Be it a lost hiker unprepared for the wilderness he chose to explore, or a grandfather hiker with Alzheimers wandering off at random, or a woman who fell and broke her leg in the backcountry, or a child who quietly walked away from his parent's campsite?

I hear multiple times complaints from rangers that they have been put into the duty of staying in the office to do paperwork instead of field patrol. In some especially large woodland areas that previously had multiple rangers assigned for coverage and patrol, now there is only one.

AFRs can only do so much. Ever been to Lows Lake and seen AFR Dawn A. paddling around, talking to campers, ensuring proper care of themselves and of the wilderness? Although she obviously loved her job, she was way overworked IMO, and had very limited legal authority, other than to call her ranger supervisor if there was a serious problem.
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Old 10-13-2017, 12:44 PM   #36
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Wldrns, I don't understand the point you were trying to make.
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Old 10-13-2017, 12:56 PM   #37
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.. When people realize there are consequences for their actions and that their personal safety is in their hands, not someone else's, they'll be a lot more careful about how they behave.
You're free to hypothesize but the reality is markedly different. Today you can activate a PLB, SPOT, or inReach (or call 911 or DEC Dispatch if you have cell service) and initiate a SAR response. If someone dies because of under-staffing, the only party who will look bad is the state, not the victim (regardless of any negligence). That can is open and cutting back on rangers isn't going to put the lid back on.

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... the Rangers, and the rescue capabilities they provide, serve as a response ... their presence is not a solution.
Their presence does both. They respond to incidents and educate hikers to help prevent the incidents. That's the way it used to work when rangers like Pete Fish patrolled the backcountry. Now rangers are in short supply so they're stationed in the front-country and AFRs, caretakers, and stewards, serve as their eyes and ears in the backcountry. However, rangers still educate the public whenever they can.

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If the possibility of a lonely death isn't going to dissuade ill-prepared hikers from going out, a hefty fine or some form of legal punishment might serve as a viable alternative.
Rather than use punitive language (fine, legal punishment), New Hampshire calls it like it is, you pay the cost of the rescue (if you're negligent or reckless). Basically, you're billed for "services rendered". I think that's fair and probably makes NH's taxpayers feel better when NH Fish & Games rescues someone doing something blatantly negligent.
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Old 10-13-2017, 01:24 PM   #38
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You're free to hypothesize but the reality is markedly different. Today you can activate a PLB, SPOT, or inReach (or call 911 or DEC Dispatch if you have cell service) and initiate a SAR response. If someone dies because of under-staffing, the only party who will look bad is the state, not the victim (regardless of any negligence). That can is open and cutting back on rangers isn't going to put the lid back on.
I'm not arguing that we should cut back on the Ranger #'s. I'm saying that increasing their #'s isn't going to decrease the # of rescue incidents. And your point on PLB's and Sat communications simply reinforces my point; people nowadays have more tools at their disposal with which to reach out and call for help. It creates a false sense of confidence with many people who go into areas ill-prepared. Though, I'll note that people who have the foresight to buy a dedicated PLB or Sat communicator (instead of relying on a basic cell phone) usually have more wilderness savvy....that's been my experience anyhow.


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Their presence does both. They respond to incidents and educate hikers to help prevent the incidents. That's the way it used to work when rangers like Pete Fish patrolled the backcountry.
I'm all for Rangers fulfilling the education aspect of their mission. I suppose this is my pessimistic side showing here, but I really don't think education is going to somehow transform the average visitor into a better prepared hiker. There is a wealth of information (maps, wildlife info, terrain details) listed for most of the areas of the ADK's on the DEC website; most of the casual hikers I've talk to have never even bothered looking at those sites. Most don't even carry a map (not even the free PDF ones offered on the DEC site) and are totally reliant on the posted trail signs and markers to find their way. The idea that a voluntary verbal interaction with a well-meaning Ranger is going to change that kind of careless attitude is not realistic IMO.


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Rather than use punitive language (fine, legal punishment), New Hampshire calls it like it is, you pay the cost of the rescue (if you're negligent or reckless). Basically, you're billed for "services rendered".
It doesn't matter if you call it a "punishment" or a "bill for services rendered;" people will behave differently if they fear the potential of financial penalties being levied against them.

Edit: changed 'is' to 'isn't'

Last edited by Bounder45; 10-14-2017 at 11:04 PM..
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Old 10-13-2017, 06:33 PM   #39
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At the AMR register this past weekend there were two red cards posted.

One on the main information board.

Hiking Tip. Research your hiking destination BEFORE you go!

One inside the register box

Did you plan your trip before you arrived here? Do you have a map?

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Old 10-15-2017, 07:48 PM   #40
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Here is some of my thoughts on this subject.
I am amazed that we are able to hike and camp for free in this state as it is. No permits or filing a plan with the DEC or some State Agency.
A fee or Permit Charge, Rescue or what ever it would be called might keep those that would normally venture out to stop and think a little.
But for all those that dont sign a register there will be those that use the trails or park as they please.
I feel that paying for a rescue might deter those that sit down with a slight injury to keep walking and drive home or to their Health Care Provider rather than having a Ranger escort them to their car and then refuse further medical attention.
Even with a Satellite device like a SPOT, inReach one could start an SOS for any given reason. Not Life, Limb or Eye site as it were.
All the signs posted at trail heads and register boxes already have very minimal impact on any people bringing things into or leaving thing at any given place.
Ive seen people walking their dog in pajamas two or three miles into a hike. And they looked at me as if I was from outer space. I usually don't try to directly tell anyone they should think about where they are going or what they carry but, I mention sunset and sun rise times or weather to see if they have a reaction. Some times they see my small pack and think I am the one that's crazy. Those with no common sense will almost never change their ways unless they see something to change the way they think. If one goes out unprepared and calls the Ranger because they don't have a headlamp and cant make it down or out of the woods, they should pay say $1000 to compensate for the time and or resources used.
In the case of the Alex Stevens incident, who pays for this type of incident? Family? It is tough to do but for all the resources used I feel that it has to be paid for. And yes by the family of the ones who died because of the lack of a detailed plan given to any one.
I am happy to see all the ideas here about this subject. And I know all of our input can come up with a solution to make the back country safer for all that choose to use it.
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