New Bill Would Criminalize Skiing Out Of Bounds In Vermont

As reported earlier in the season, (Vermont Sees Dramatic Increase In Backcountry Rescues | 45 In The Past Two Weeks) Vermont is facing a problem with skiers getting lost off trail. Now, Sen. Kevin Mullin, R-Rutland,  has introduced legislation that would outlaw skiing off trail and impose a $500 fine for deliberately skiing out of bounds at a Vermont resort.

“Nobody goes out of bounds thinking that they’re going to get lost,” he said, “but inevitably it happens and I just think it would be helpful to have a sign that says, ‘It is a crime to ski out of bounds’ …”  Mullin said.

More on this story from the rutlandherald.com

“We have to send a clear message 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,” he said.

Mullin said the ski resorts were not responsible for the problem.

“The ski areas are doing their best,” he said. “They’re putting up signs. They’re doing everything they can to try to warn these people not to do it, but they still do it.”

After its introduction, the bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The chairman, Sen. Richard Sears, D-Bennington, said it was too early to tell how much support the bill would have. However, he said it has become an issue all over Vermont.

Sears said he expected to hold hearings on the bill during the week of Feb. 25. Representatives of the skiing industry, law enforcement and rescue personnel and even skiers are encouraged to offer input on the proposal, he said.

“Whose responsibility is it when (skiers) choose to do something reckless?” Sears said. “… I remember playing golf down in Florida and seeing a sign: ‘Water moccasins.’ Well, I gotta tell you, when I dropped the ball in that pond, I didn’t go looking for it.”

As written now, the bill would add language to the existing statute on unlawful trespass and make it illegal to use the “facilities of a ski area to access terrain outside the ski area’s open and designated ski trails (if) as a result, (the skier) must be rescued by a rescue organization.”

Keep reading - Bill would fine skiers for leaving trail


  • Hairfarmr

    Fuck that douche bag, another so called small govt retard republican expanding gov’ts reach. why is it that these douchbags legislate our individual acvtion s yet leave big corps and polluters alone. this is a ridiculous intrusion of our rights to use public land, FUCK ITS OUR FUCKING LAND WTF doesn’t this douchebag understand about PUBLIC ????

    • Anonymous

      yea i agree this proposed law in completely backwards and stupid, chances are the public land arguments don’t apply here. very little public land in the east and most of these resorts are on private land holdings. not like the west where public land prevails.

      • Hairfarmr

        Mt Mansfield is a state reserve ie Public land, many resorts in the east abut public land (not as many as out west but still a significant amount, especially in VT and ME)

      • God damn fascists

        kids sleeping on our city streets while rich fat cats ski for free!? Now this? the fing lawmakers are trying to fix all the wrong problems in this country

  • Anonymous

    So even if they do pass this bullshit, who is going to enforce it? Does this mean there will be cops hanging out at the top of the gondola at Stowe looking to arrest anyone who tries to access the chin? Or will ski patrol start doing that? WTF.

  • whocares

    How bout instead of ruining it for everyone there be a law that says if you are not prepared its against the law. Driving is fucking dangerous but we still allow those who are trained and have functioning gear do it. Maybe a back country license might be in order. Reduce risk, and reduce the crowds. Criminalizing everything that is slightly annoying or difficult or even dangerous leaves a country full of overweight pale shut ins, who’s only adrenaline comes in the form of an ominous music played on the television.

  • JohnnyG

    the law is fine. if you’re stupid enough to get lost, you’ll get caught. if you know what you’re doing, you wont see the county sar/sheriff.

  • Reading Comprehension FTMFW!

    Love that no one can read for a damn…

    As it stands the law only affects someone who uses the lifts to access the sidecountry, AND then needs rescue assistance (ie – Jersey Joey gets lost after smoking too much of the funny stuff out at Coops).

    The only thing that needs to be added is a provision for a prepared sidecountry user (proper gear and general knowledge) who finds themselves in a bind such as an injury and needs help.

    But hey, “FUCK THE MAN!” is way better rhetoric, so whatever.

    • Hairfarmr

      making it a crime is ridiculous ,, just make the stupid idiots pay for their search and rescue (like they do in Ca) if they are too stupid and get lost . Why the FUCK should it be a CRIME to ski side/back country from a resort when you know exactly where the FUCK you are. this law is totally unnecessary and your having no problem w/ it and accusing the rest of us as being FUCK THE MAN types is very telling of what kind of douchebag YOU are.

      • Reading Comprehension FTMFW!

        Again, learn to understand what you are reading, unless all you did was read the overly sensationalized headline.

        If you know where you are going, you will not require the need of a SAR, thus it will not be illegal. A fine would only be assessed for someone who leaves the ski resort boundary, and requires SAR assistance. It is not much different than charging for SAR expenses itself, but at a greatly discounted rate.

      • God damn fascists

        The point is why are the politicians wasting their time on this topic when there are so many more important things for them to be working on… Add up the total cost of S and R and compare that to the amount of taxpayer money those aholes give away to special interests and you will see what a joke our political system is. One, ONE, F18 fighter jet costs $57 million… How many skiers would that rescue?

      • Lost in the East

        Okay I must comment on your comment, this guy is a STATE legislator, not a FEDERAL legislator (ie; no F-18′s). If you are going to rant and yes I agree it should not be high on the state legislatures list but with, as Vermonters call them, Joeys getting lost someone needs to pay for the SAR and not the taxpayers of Vermont. It should not be a crime but a fine.

  • pj

    stupid is as stupid does some people need to be governed. Why not pass a bill making the lost party responsible for themselves.Meaning they foot the bill.Seems pretty simple . As far as the first comment ,being a republican has nothing to do with this issue.It is dollars and cents and maybe rescuers putting themselves out in possibly dangerous situations .Ranting never comes across as being smart.Glad i left the east,just another reason.

    • reub

      making the lost party foot the bill which will likely be thousands to tens of thousands of dollars is not the solution. Then no one will call for help for fear of the bill or if they do, likely they will wait till its too late. This is why most SAR organizations I know about don’t charge, also a lot of it is run by volunteers. As a society we pay for care for the elderly, help finance school for young people, offer food/gas/money who need it, etc etc. I dont think 40 rescues in a year or even 100 is beyond what we should be able to handle. If its really sooo expensive maybe we should try to find more ways to lower the cost of a rescue. Like maybe not use helicopters except as a last resort and offer free/discount lift tickets/food or other incentives for volunteering for SAR. I’m sure there is a better way we can make this work.

  • Craig

    So he thinks it would be helpful if there was a sign stating that it was illegal. yeah that works everywhere. Maybe I’ll work to make it illegal for Sen. Mullen and Chairman Sears to do something they enjoy doing, but that I know nothing about, as that would surely be okay with them.

  • TreeSkier

    Its only an issue if you get hurt and have to call real skiers and snowborders like the ones on Ski Patrol or trained folk like rescue squads to come and get your dumb wounded ass out of the woods.
    90% of the time, I say “let Darwin decide” and the dumb morons will be culled from the herd.
    Its been illegal to ski out of bounds out west for many years. Current VT law lets the “tresspasser” do whatever they want. WITHOUT recourse.
    I think the local ski patrol and rescue squads are getting tired of you dumbasses getting hurt because a) you are not good enough to ski the terrain !) go in unprepared c) too late in the day or d) just want to film it on you pariscopic GoPro so you can post on YouTube or FaceBook and brag how “awesome, indeed” it was. And they do this in sub zero temps, at night and when they would rather be watching a game, or sitting in a ho tub drinking a beer.
    Grow up! Do the current un-American thing and take responsibility for yourself.

  • ADKliving

    This is why ski resorts should charge less to “in area residency” tickets cause it’s the stupid MFer’s that travel from Boston, NYC, or some other metropolitan area and think they can ski + navigate in the backcountry. It’s the reason and only reason this bill is being brought up. Hell, if you want this stupidity to stop let them be responsible for getting themselves out without rescuers. If they call for help give’em directions.

  • DT

    The sign said “Water Moccasins,” not “It is illegal to look for your golf ball in this pond.”
    Why not create a law that makes skiers and snowboarders responsible for their own choices? And if they decide/need to be rescued then they are required pay ALL of the search and rescue costs? This would cost taxpayers zero. I do not believe that limiting our personal freedoms is the correct path to take.

  • dilltron

    HAHAHAHA of course this would happen in vermont…..too bad they all come west to get away from all the other retards….

  • ShredZgnar

    Here on mt hood If you get rescued tax payers dont pay for it you do. Also getting life flighted from the resorts tax payers dont pay and its not considered a medical expense. You are life flighted out by National Guard and they charge you everyones wage along with heli costs and who knows what additional fees. Theres no not paying this they will garnish you if you dont. Ive heard its 10-15k in or out of resort when the heli picks you up. Ask Ben Beavon He doesnt always knuckle massive park jumps but when he does he gets to ride in a helicopter!

    • Geriatic Skier Gurl

      ….sheriff deputy gonna get overtime…..

      Does this mean the avi dogs get cross trained to bite the fleeing “criminal skiers?”

  • Bigbsurferigbmccuesurf

    Stupid and reckless people should be responsible for their actions. Wherever they are. Just happen to be a lot in Vermont.

  • Mr. Magoo

    The MOST EXPENSIVE s&r is the ones for the little kids who get lost because mommy and daddy are being shit parents and not watching them, that and lost boy scouts. When was the last time you saw one of these douch bags foot the bill for rescue? Not any I can think of. What about the the scouts that start huge fires? Do they foot the bill? This is shit.

  • Boner

    Why not do what Colorado has and included rescue insurance with a fishing license, or what he Euro’s do and give you an option to top up with your ticket. Then if a person doesn’t, then make em pay the whole load. Simple.

    • Geriatic Skier Gurl

      Because This Is Amerika, son, and We Do Not Do What Europeans Do More Efficiently, Ever, Because Somebody Will Call You a Commie Pinko Socialist. Get With the Program, Protect the Criminal Industrial Prison- Complex and the Privatized Prison- Contractor System Biznuss !

      Vermont doesn’t have many people but the ones there have this thing about taxes, so they plan to “fee” everything to death, and there is no easier pickins’ than a tourist. “Live free or die… ” yeah, sure.

  • Mr. Backcountry

    So I would have to say that I disagree with this law.

    To prevent this, further education is needed. People buy a ski pass and are not made to read to sign anything. There is a statement on the back of the ticket, but it does not cover everything this skier might encounter. If there was an option on a pass to include Backcountry usage * this feature for the pass would only be received after watching a video that explains the risks and the regulations around skiing out of bounds.

    Even if the education never happens it should not be a fine for getting rescued. Lets suck up the cost as a state because Skiing is one of our biggest revenue sources. If someone gets hurt and is hurting more for money they could risk dying over a fee. $500 may not seem like anything to a lot of people but $500 could make or break a phone call for help in a potentially life threatening situation.

    Regardless of the outcome of this law backcountry education should be put in place to get tourists as well as locals on the same page as far as backcountry etiquette and expectations.

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