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.
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“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