By NORMA LOVE
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Charging hikers and others rescued in New Hampshire's backwoods a fee is getting a mixed response.
Witnesses at a House hearing Thursday on a bill to establish the fees agreed something must be done to dig the state's search and rescue fund out of the red, but disagreed on what.
House Republican Leader Gene Chandler of Bartlett-- the prime bill sponsor-- said it is unlikely the Legislature will agree to take money from general tax sources. He said it isn't fair to pay for rescues only using fees paid by sportsmen.
But clubs that volunteer time to assist the state in the rescues said they fear charging a fee will discourage people from seeking help before it becomes more dangerous to them and to rescuers.
Hunters, anglers, boaters, snowmobilers and all-terrain vehicle riders currently pay 100 percent of the rescue costs through license fees but averaged only 14 percent of the rescues since 2006.
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