BWCA Is it time to charge a fee on each BWCA permit for EMS help? Boundary Waters Listening Point - General Discussion
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06/18/2024 08:29AM  
Your opinion on the issue of needed aid assistants? Your ideas?

With so many emergencies happening lately, the voluntary EMS and First Responders funds are strained, as are state and county funds. Would it be appropriate to charge like even $ 2.00 per individual in the party permit for the BWCA with funds dispersed as seen fit? I think it would better equip our EMS people.

There are so many volunteer groups like the Gunflint Fire Dept. up the trail and many more. I know St. Louis County is asking for funds to help in BWCA rescues. That would add a half million dollars for equipment, training, and needs.

Just this week another emergency Chopper needed for airlift-injured and bleeding
 
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06/18/2024 08:45AM  
Man airlifted after Boundary Waters arm injury
The party was bleeding profusely and required emergency evacuation from an Isabella Lake wilderness entry point.
Helicopter stock photo
A man who was injured in the Boundary Waters was flown by helicopter for medical care.Andrii Zorii / Getty Images
By Staff reports
June 17, 2024 at 12:09 PM
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News reporting
ISABELLA LAKE — A man was rescued and evacuated via helicopter after he sustained an arm injury in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness on Friday.

At 7:22 p.m., Lake County Dispatch received a report of the injured party whose arm was bleeding heavily on Isabella Lake, about 35 miles southeast of Ely, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release Monday.

The man was transported by canoe to BWCAW Entry Point 35 on Isabella Lake and a Life Link helicopter was dispatched to the nearby Forest Center Landing Zone.

At 8:18 p.m., Lake County Rescue arrived and transported the injured man to the landing zone, where he was loaded onto the helicopter at 8:33 pm.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Lake County Rescue, Lake County Ambulance, Babbitt Fire and Life Link assisted the sheriff's office in the rescue.

 
tumblehome
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06/18/2024 08:50AM  
I think rescues are just making more news these days. There are plenty of rescues that do not make the press. It's probably an average year. Exception is the resources spent on the Curtain Falls incident.

Tom
 
06/18/2024 08:58AM  
That is a fine idea, Pinetree. I'd be willing to pay that fee and can afford it. Support of EMS help is a worthwhile investment.

On the flip side, why am I being taxed when I am not a user? Every rescued canoer and corpse should be bill at full cost.
 
LukeMacGillie37
member (29)member
  
06/18/2024 09:06AM  
I carry SAR insurance for my daughter and me.

If a fee was to be implemented, make it for those who do not carry insurance. Not just a blanket fee.
 
06/18/2024 09:09AM  
Yeah, those S&R folks buy their own personal gear. They spend their own time looking for folks who get into trouble and/or die. I would gladly pay a little search and rescue tax when buying permits.

The Search and Rescue Folks
 
06/18/2024 10:13AM  
Soledad: "Yeah, those S&R folks buy their own personal gear. They spend their own time looking for folks who get into trouble and/or die. I would gladly pay a little search and rescue tax when buying permits.

The Search and Rescue Folks "

Thanks for the info
 
THEGrandRapids
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06/18/2024 10:26AM  
I don't have the exact source here, but I read about implementing a "backpack" tax.. basically mimic the tackle excise tax and fishing/hunting license- but a federal levied excise tax on non-hunting/fishing outdoor gear. The hunting and fishing crowd far outweigh taxes paid related to the outdoors preservation, etc.
 
fenrirrr
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06/18/2024 11:02AM  
Pinetree: With so many emergencies happening lately, the voluntary EMS and First Responders funds are strained, as are state and county funds.
....
Just this week another emergency Chopper needed for airlift-injured and bleeding "

Do you have actual data to support this assertion?

The Curtain Falls tragedy was exceptionally resource and time intensive. There's often a surge in public interest and media attention in otherwise unremarkable cases after such a high-profile incident.

The air ambulance in the DNT story you shared sounds dramatic, but that's a routine method of transport if you'd been involved in a serious car crash on the way to the BWCA or needed elevated trauma care anywhere in rural Minnesota.

Notably, that flight is almost certainly billed to the patient (or their health insurance). The wilderness rescue ended when the volunteers brought the injured party to the EP for pickup.

Pertinent data point from the MPR story linked above:
Over the past eight years, the number of annual operations in the wilderness and surrounding National Forest has ranged from 16 to 30. In 2020, an outlier year during the COVID pandemic, the rescue squad responded to 39 incidents, totaling nearly 1,200 volunteer hours.

BWCA and SNF incidents make up less than 10% of the roughly 400 calls the St. Louis County Rescue Squad said they respond to annually.
 
06/18/2024 02:15PM  
Jackfish: "
bobbernumber3: "On the flip side, why am I being taxed when I am not a user? Every rescued cancer and corpse should be bill at full cost."

Huh? Please elaborate."

I am guessing he meant canoer and not cancer.
 
06/18/2024 02:32PM  
No we should not be charged a fee for a service we don't use. IF however you are one of those that need to be rescued I have no problem with the rescued having to pay for services provided to save their butts.

To take this thinking to an aburd level, should we have a nationwide tax on everyone to rescue those that die from self inflicted selfie deaths and falls? That answer is no by the way!
 
06/18/2024 02:35PM  
fenrirrr: "
Pinetree: With so many emergencies happening lately, the voluntary EMS and First Responders funds are strained, as are state and county funds.
....
Just this week another emergency Chopper needed for airlift-injured and bleeding "

Do you have actual data to support this assertion?

The Curtain Falls tragedy was exceptionally resource and time intensive. There's often a surge in public attention and media interest in otherwise unremarkable cases after such a high-profile incident.

The air ambulance in the DNT story you shared sounds dramatic, but that's a routine method of transport if you'd been involved in a serious car crash on the way to the BWCA or needed elevated trauma care anywhere in rural Minnesota.

Notably, that flight is almost certainly billed to the patient (or their health insurance). The wilderness rescue ended when the volunteers brought the injured party to the EP for pickup.

Pertinent data point from the MPR story linked above:
Over the past eight years, the number of annual operations in the wilderness and surrounding National Forest has ranged from 16 to 30. In 2020, an outlier year during the COVID pandemic, the rescue squad responded to 39 incidents, totaling nearly 1,200 volunteer hours.

BWCA and SNF incidents make up less than 10% of the roughly 400 calls the St. Louis County Rescue Squad said they respond to annually."


Even at present levels and past few years St. Louis County, Gunflint fire dept and First Responders been asking for more money from the U.S. Forest Service. At present levels instead of buying or affording new equipment money is used to maintain readiness at a lower level.
That is why I said I would like to see others' viewpoints and we do have EMS and First Responders on board here who would be much more knowledgeable of needs and wants tan I.
 
fenrirrr
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06/18/2024 02:42PM  
gsfisher13: "No we should not be charged a fee for a service we don't use. IF however you are one of those that need to be rescued I have no problem with the rescued having to pay for services provided to save their butts.

To take this thinking to an aburd level, should we have a nationwide tax on everyone to rescue those that die from self inflicted selfie deaths and falls? That answer is no by the way!"

You are already paying for it. The Minnesota DNR and National Guard pilots and helicopters involved in the Curtain Falls recovery didn't fly for free. The National Forest Service operates their Beaver plane used in rescues with federal funding and permit fees.

The folks who aren't being paid are the on-the-ground volunteers who form the back bone of most rescue and recovery operations.

You can't exactly bill a dead person for the cost of recovering their body. What's the alternative? Leave their rotting body for everyone else to trip over? Bill the family?
 
fenrirrr
member (43)member
  
06/18/2024 02:53PM  
Pinetree: Even at present levels and past few years St. Louis County, Gunflint fire dept and First Responders been asking for more money from the U.S. Forest Service. At present levels instead of buying or affording new equipment money is used to maintain readiness at a lower level.
That is why I said I would like to see others' viewpoints and we do have EMS and First Responders on board here who would be much more knowledgeable of needs and wants tan I."


Seems like a reasonable ask–regardless if the demand for service has actually increased. But I also haven't seen data to support that assertion beyond 2020, which seems to be an anomaly.
 
06/18/2024 03:21PM  
 
06/18/2024 03:24PM  
I would pay willingly. Even $5 on each permit seems more than reasonable. All things considered, the permits are cheap relatively speaking.
 
06/18/2024 03:28PM  
Frenchy19: "
Jackfish: "
bobbernumber3: "On the flip side, why am I being taxed when I am not a user? Every rescued cancer and corpse should be bill at full cost."

Huh? Please elaborate."

I am guessing he meant canoer and not cancer."

Yep... got autocorrected
 
06/18/2024 04:06PM  
Great article on MPR site today that interviews a lot of the folks involved in the Curtain Falls tragedy. One interviewed flat out said he does not want those rescued to have to pay for anything. Also of interest, the article mentioned that since The St Louis County Rescue squad has been formed there have been 507 water fatalities-and only 14 of them were wearing PFDs.
 
AlexanderSupertramp
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06/18/2024 04:08PM  
Papa09: "I would pay willingly. Even $5 on each permit seems more than reasonable. All things considered, the permits are cheap relatively speaking. "


The problem is, $5 would be almost meaningless even if added to all permits, including hiking and motor permits. Data from 2021 shows there were almost exactly 30,000 permits issued in total, so that would be a grand total of $150k, and I wouldn't be surprised if something like the Curtain Falls rescue had an actual cost of $1 Million, or close to it. If it were $5/person, that moves the needle a little more.

So if the purpose was to create an insurance-like slush fund, I dont think it works. But if the purpose was for local rescue personnel to invest $150k each year in new technology or equipment to do their jobs better, then it goes a lot further.

 
ockycamper
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06/18/2024 04:35PM  
This question is a lot like hospitals. Anyone, with or without insurance can receive treatment in an ER. However that expense is passed on to others.

My vote, like those in this thread, is build in to the permit a fee that goes to SAR rescues.

One last thought. . . There are many if not most on these forums that refuse to get rescue insurance due to it being "not needed". Someone is paying for that rescue. Its not all voluteers. And then there is the boat/plane/helicopter.

Is it not the same thing as the ER without insurance for those going to the BWCA to refuse to buy their own rescue insurance because "its free"?
 
Finnboy
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06/18/2024 04:52PM  
I don’t want to sound harsh and insensitive but here I go. We are going into a wilderness area. There is a risk involved. Over the last few years people have been rescued for many reasons. I feel like there is becoming an assumption that if the going gets tough and we don’t want to accept responsibility and tough it out someone will come get us. An example would be going down the wrong creek and not turning around and finding the correct one. Or the creek doesn’t have enough water and someone abandons their only way out. Are we setting precedent?
I know some people don’t consider the BWCA a true wilderness but more people should give it the respect it deserves and be prepared mentally and physically to deal with the consequences. Or maybe go to a State Park.

I’ve said my piece.

 
06/18/2024 05:34PM  
AlexanderSupertramp: "
Papa09: "I would pay willingly. Even $5 on each permit seems more than reasonable. All things considered, the permits are cheap relatively speaking. "



The problem is, $5 would be almost meaningless even if added to all permits, including hiking and motor permits. Data from 2021 shows there were almost exactly 30,000 permits issued in total, so that would be a grand total of $150k, and I wouldn't be surprised if something like the Curtain Falls rescue had an actual cost of $1 Million, or close to it. If it were $5/person, that moves the needle a little more.


So if the purpose was to create an insurance-like slush fund, I dont think it works. But if the purpose was for local rescue personnel to invest $150k each year in new technology or equipment to do their jobs better, then it goes a lot further.


"
I was thinking more in line per person-Last year I think around 165,000 people. Even at $2.00 that is $230,000 and $3.00 is close to a half million.
 
Minnesotian
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06/18/2024 05:46PM  
Frenchy19: "Great article on MPR site today that interviews a lot of the folks involved in the Curtain Falls tragedy. One interviewed flat out said he does not want those rescued to have to pay for anything. "


And I agree with that. If a fee or being charged for a rescue becomes a thing, then there will be an increase of people NOT calling for a rescue, thus leading to possibly more fatalities. Maybe there could be a nuance of charging for a rescue, depending on risk of injury or death, but that opens up interpretation of an event to subjectiveness and possible litigation if ruled non-favorably. Best to not charge at all.

This not charging for a rescue is nationally, and to an extent, internationally agreed upon. The Colorado SAR explains it well: Why don't search and rescue charge?. In the article they mention their adhearence to the National Search and Rescue Plan of the United States. In particular, on page 13, it goes more into depth: "Unless required by law, SAR services provided to persons in distress should be without subsequent cost-recovery from the persons assisted."

Additionally from the article, and simple stated: "The mission of SAR organizations is to save lives, not just the lives of those who can afford to pay the bill.”
 
06/18/2024 05:54PM  
Frenchy19: "Also of interest, the article mentioned that since The St Louis County Rescue squad has been formed there have been 507 water fatalities-and only 14 of them were wearing PFDs. "


This right here is information that should be included in every permit video. Should also be included in all literature.

I will never understand the distaste for life jackets. We should bring this term back BTW and I have no idea why we need to rename everything. Especially with something so darn important.
 
billconner
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06/18/2024 06:11PM  
I like the way New Hampshire helps fund SAR.https://www.wildlife.nh.gov/get-outside/hiking-safety I think Colorado and one other area/state has a similar program. The emergency services get the money.
 
06/18/2024 06:21PM  
billconner: "I like the way New Hampshire helps fund SAR.https://www.wildlife.nh.gov/get-outside/hiking-safety I think Colorado and one other area/state has a similar program. The emergency services get the money."


Bills post I think Colorado
 
06/18/2024 06:26PM  
Some States have an annual fee card annual fee

I also think like a half dozen states have a charge for rescue depending the circumstances and how negligent it was.

I just prefer a fee when entering each time or an annual card rather than charging the individual.
 
Minnesotian
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06/18/2024 08:20PM  

Or one can donate directly to the SARS team for the BWCA: St. Louis County Rescue Squad
 
gravelroad
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06/18/2024 08:23PM  
LukeMacGillie37: "I carry SAR insurance for my daughter and me.

If a fee was to be implemented, make it for those who do not carry insurance. Not just a blanket fee. "


Your SAR insurance won’t pay one nickel for the expenses of an official response in the BWCA, including the volunteer resources used in it. Read your certificate of insurance.

Yes, I do know what I’m talking about here. I was a commercial insurance underwriter, corporate risk manager, attorney and SAR volunteer for many years. And I have already read your certificate of insurance.
 
gravelroad
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06/18/2024 08:35PM  
billconner: "I like the way New Hampshire helps fund SAR.https://www.wildlife.nh.gov/get-outside/hiking-safety I think Colorado and one other area/state has a similar program. The emergency services get the money."


I am intimately familiar with the circumstances in the Granite Headed State, having lived there for 17 years and spent four years in a SAR dog unit. The fee you cite covers less than a third of the annual costs of SAR operations in the state:

”Search and Rescue Account:
Approximate revenue for each of the past ten years generated by a $1.00 fee added to every boat, OHRV and snowmobile registration plus any donations and reimbursements averages $191,623.
Hike Safe card program has generated an average of $118,956 per year since it's inception in 2015.
Fish and Game annual Search and Rescue expenditures for the past ten years averaged a total of $308,952.”



Search and Rescue Funding
 
andym
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06/18/2024 09:03PM  
One of my friends shared a piece by their local search and rescue group. That group did not want fees to be charged to people who needed rescuing. Their logic was that if people were afraid of being charged then they would delay calling for help, situations would get worse, and the ultimate rescues would be more difficult.

Personally, I don’t want fees charged for rescues because I like the idea that we are a kind society that takes care of each other. But I would be happy to pay an additional permit fee to help support those services.
 
06/18/2024 09:48PM  
andym: "One of my friends shared a piece by their local search and rescue group. That group did not want fees to be charged to people who needed rescuing. Their logic was that if people were afraid of being charged then they would delay calling for help, situations would get worse, and the ultimate rescues would be more difficult.


Personally, I don’t want fees charged for rescues because I like the idea that we are a kind society that takes care of each other. But I would be happy to pay an additional permit fee to help support those services. "


agree
 
06/18/2024 09:49PM  
fenrirrr: "
gsfisher13: "No we should not be charged a fee for a service we don't use. IF however you are one of those that need to be rescued I have no problem with the rescued having to pay for services provided to save their butts.

To take this thinking to an aburd level, should we have a nationwide tax on everyone to rescue those that die from self inflicted selfie deaths and falls? That answer is no by the way!"

You are already paying for it. The Minnesota DNR and National Guard pilots and helicopters involved in the Curtain Falls recovery didn't fly for free. The National Forest Service operates their Beaver plane used in rescues with federal funding and permit fees.

The folks who aren't being paid are the on-the-ground volunteers who form the back bone of most rescue and recovery operations.

You can't exactly bill a dead person for the cost of recovering their body. What's the alternative? Leave their rotting body for everyone else to trip over? Bill the family?"


You just proved my point twice and didn't realize it. One, the fees we pay for permits should already be covering it? Why do we need volunteer groups? Oh because the money we pay in fees is being used for something else. Like taxes on gasoline to improve roads and that money doesn't actually go for improving roads.

And yes, the families should be billed, their estate, their life insurance. Not to sound harsh but that's exactly who is responsible for the costs involved, not me.
Maybe then people will actually start thinking twice about wearing a $30 PFD.
 
billconner
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06/19/2024 05:59AM  
Someone gets struck by lightening or has a tree fall on them - it's not their fault. A house burns because a wildfire spreads - the volunteer fire department shows up. We should take care of our neighbors who need help.
 
Sparkeh
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06/19/2024 06:07AM  
I will gladly pay my rescuers if I ever need them. They deserve more than a thank you after saving your life. Not a big fan of a rescue tax. Seems like a lot of taxes get misused with the amount of corruption in our society.
 
TechnoScout
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06/19/2024 07:02AM  
THEGrandRapids: "I don't have the exact source here, but I read about implementing a "backpack" tax.. basically mimic the tackle excise tax and fishing/hunting license- but a federal levied excise tax on non-hunting/fishing outdoor gear. The hunting and fishing crowd far outweigh taxes paid related to the outdoors preservation, etc. "


Another federal tax. Yeah, the dumbest idea I have seen on the internet today. The day is not over, so I will continue to search for something even more stupid.
 
alpinebrule
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06/19/2024 07:32AM  
Perhaps a better way to look at this in not as a tax or fee but rather as an insurance premium and a matter of personal responsibility. A larger number of people paying a small amount for the few who need "insurance". Just like insurance it wouldn't cover willful acts so if it was your own fault the costs would be borne by the individual. Some commentors have indicated they already carry SAR insurance, might this even save them some money by providing an alternate source of coverage?
 
SummerSkin
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06/19/2024 08:11AM  
gravelroad: "
billconner: "I like the way New Hampshire helps fund SAR.https://www.wildlife.nh.gov/get-outside/hiking-safety I think Colorado and one other area/state has a similar program. The emergency services get the money."



I am intimately familiar with the circumstances in the Granite Headed State, having lived there for 17 years and spent four years in a SAR dog unit. The fee you cite covers less than a third of the annual costs of SAR operations in the state:


”Search and Rescue Account:
Approximate revenue for each of the past ten years generated by a $1.00 fee added to every boat, OHRV and snowmobile registration plus any donations and reimbursements averages $191,623.
Hike Safe card program has generated an average of $118,956 per year since it's inception in 2015.
Fish and Game annual Search and Rescue expenditures for the past ten years averaged a total of $308,952.”




Search and Rescue Funding "


Am I missing something here? The figures you site from NH's SAR page cover their annual SAR expenses. The Hike Safe covers less than half (but more than a third), and the remainder is covered by the $1 registration fee.
 
06/19/2024 08:15AM  
The BWCAW fees are already ridiculously low. There is absolutely no way they cover the expenses of running the BWCAW. I would never oppose an increase in fees. The gas I put in my car to get there costs more than the permit. It’s the cheapest part of my trips.

Obviously I’d want to know the extra fee would go to Emergency services, but at face value I’d be for it in some fashion.

I’d like to see some statistics on if services are used more. It certainly seems that way. Cell service is better (exists), emergency devices are readily available. 20-30 years ago almost no one had a way call/communicate for help.

There have also been several emergency extractions that were not emergencies. I don’t think those existed 20 years ago. Probably a small percentage still, but I’d like to see those people charged. Anyone know what happened to the group that simply abandoned their gear and got “rescued” I think it was at Horse or Fourtown?

T
 
06/19/2024 08:33AM  
Do we want to send our first responders be it volunteered or paid out in the field with inferior equipment? Maybe a fee would give them the ability to do the job better and save a life.
First responders are dedicating their lives and time to help people, shouldn't we be supporting their needs?

This so far has been a good discussion, without hashing over the ideas we have no idea what the correct response should be.
 
newguy
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06/19/2024 12:44PM  
Absolutely not. The psychology of an unprepared person entering the BWCA knowing that they paid a $2.00 "Rescue Services Fee" would cause them to believe--even more than they already do--that they can do risky things and be rescued if their decision goes poorly.
 
gravelroad
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06/19/2024 01:32PM  
SummerSkin: "
gravelroad: "
billconner: "I like the way New Hampshire helps fund SAR.https://www.wildlife.nh.gov/get-outside/hiking-safety I think Colorado and one other area/state has a similar program. The emergency services get the money."




I am intimately familiar with the circumstances in the Granite Headed State, having lived there for 17 years and spent four years in a SAR dog unit. The fee you cite covers less than a third of the annual costs of SAR operations in the state:



”Search and Rescue Account:
Approximate revenue for each of the past ten years generated by a $1.00 fee added to every boat, OHRV and snowmobile registration plus any donations and reimbursements averages $191,623.
Hike Safe card program has generated an average of $118,956 per year since it's inception in 2015.
Fish and Game annual Search and Rescue expenditures for the past ten years averaged a total of $308,952.”





Search and Rescue Funding "



Am I missing something here? The figures you site from NH's SAR page cover their annual SAR expenses. The Hike Safe covers less than half (but more than a third), and the remainder is covered by the $1 registration fee."


I’m the one who missed something. I mistakenly thought you were only referring to the Hike Safe card.

There are plenty of folks in NH who are unhappy about funding the multiple annual rescues of unprepared non-residents in the White Mountains with registration fees charged to NH residents, however.
 
iCallitMaize
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06/19/2024 01:42PM  
Good read. I would assume a portion of all fees paid for state/federal recreation usage has that already built into it?
 
OMGitsKa
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06/19/2024 02:52PM  
I personally decided to donate to the St Louis County SAR group. Figured it would be hood karma for if I ever needed it
 
Carbonfiber
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06/19/2024 02:53PM  
Wyoming used to have a voluntary 50 cent SAR fee on hunting and fishing lic. If you paid it and needed rescue it was at no cost to you.
I paid it every time I brought a lic. it raised millions.

I think a voluntary fee would be a great idea.
 
Chieflonewatie
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06/19/2024 03:23PM  
The answer is no. No fees that will most likely be spent on something else.
 
NEIowapaddler
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06/19/2024 07:35PM  
I would be fine with it as long as the funds raised by such a fee actually went toward SAR costs and weren't used for other stuff.

To all the people who want to bill the people being rescued (or in fatalities, their families) - do YOU have a spare $50,000-100,000 laying around to use for that in the event you ever need to be rescued? And that figure is conservative for any kind of wilderness rescue, especially if helicopters or planes are involved. If so, good for you, but I feel confident saying that most people don't.
 
06/19/2024 09:29PM  
NEIowapaddler: "I would be fine with it as long as the funds raised by such a fee actually went toward SAR costs and weren't used for other stuff.


To all the people who want to bill the people being rescued (or in fatalities, their families) - do YOU have a spare $50,000-100,000 laying around to use for that in the event you ever need to be rescued? And that figure is conservative for any kind of wilderness rescue, especially if helicopters or planes are involved. If so, good for you, but I feel confident saying that most people don't. "


Feel free to donate to the rescue teams or A GoFundMe account has been set up to support the families of Reis Grams and Haugen if you want to.
 
Savage Voyageur
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06/19/2024 09:39PM  
My vote would be not to charge extra on the permit because I already have Garmin’s SAR50 insurance plan that I’m covered under.
 
billconner
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06/20/2024 05:53AM  
Anyone know of a specific instance when any of the SAR "insurance" plans (all the ones I've read the fine print say they membership, not insurance plans) has paid for any rescue in BWCAW?
 
06/20/2024 07:13AM  
I believe the first question that needs resolving is, is the system broken?

I'm in agreement with those who are weary of the attendant media frenzy common with highlighted tragedies where the actual data don't support any exceptional circumstances in a broader context. I'm not concluding that there aren't exceptional circumstances. But policy should be data-driven, not emotionally driven.

Often the results of knee jerk policy are to lighten the pockets of the public while diverting resources from the ultimate goal by enriching middle-men and generating dubious benefits to the intended parties. And once established, it's hard to undo. None of the interested parties will admit failure of their well-intentioned efforts and we're left with dog that licks its private parts all day.

Be careful what you ask for. The system as it stands now appears to work. Why fix it?

I would be in favour of voluntary donations to unpaid professional volunteers but am skeptical of taking it further than that.
 
Tallyhobob
  
06/20/2024 05:24PM  
Colorado charges a search and rescue fee for each hunting license , fishing license, and state park pass that is sold. I know the fishing/small game combo is a 25¢ charge. It might be more for big game.

MN should do the same if they don’t already.

Not sure that bwca could since it’s federal land and the funds would be going to non-federal entities.
 
gravelroad
distinguished member(1042)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
06/21/2024 04:14PM  
Savage Voyageur: "My vote would be not to charge extra on the permit because I already have Garmin’s SAR50 insurance plan that I’m covered under. "


Nope, you ain’t. Read the fine print and tell me step-by-step how you’re covered. Hint: NOBODY has ever been billed for the SAR part in the BWCA.

To wit:

In the Boundary Waters, tragedy highlights work of all-volunteer rescue squad
 
06/21/2024 04:52PM  
gravelroad: "
Savage Voyageur: "My vote would be not to charge extra on the permit because I already have Garmin’s SAR50 insurance plan that I’m covered under. "



Nope, you ain’t. Read the fine print and tell me step-by-step how you’re covered. Hint: NOBODY has ever been billed for the SAR part in the BWCA.


To wit:


In the Boundary Waters, tragedy highlights work of all-volunteer rescue squad "


Also why would the insurance pay anyhow, EMS rescues so far the public has never been charged as you said gravel road.
I see in one iron range town they are going to close their EMS unit due to lack of funds.

I can see in the future because lack of funds for proper equipment volunteer EMS staff might decline. Why should they give their time and own money in many cases when people won't support them. Maybe that will be your child or family will not get the best aid needed?
 
06/21/2024 08:43PM  
Pinetree: I can see in the future because lack of funds for proper equipment volunteer EMS staff might decline. Why should they give their time and own money in many cases when people won't support them. Maybe that will be your child or family will not get the best aid needed?"


It's a tough thing sometimes, especially in rural areas. I knew a guy who drove ambulance who really had no business doing so at his age and health. But nobody else was volunteering.

When I saw these guys do 400 calls per year it was pretty eye opening. That's a huge commitment. I wonder how they allocate that workload.
 
06/22/2024 12:05AM  
Pinetree: "
gravelroad: "
Savage Voyageur: "My vote would be not to charge extra on the permit because I already have Garmin’s SAR50 insurance plan that I’m covered under. "




Nope, you ain’t. Read the fine print and tell me step-by-step how you’re covered. Hint: NOBODY has ever been billed for the SAR part in the BWCA.



To wit:



In the Boundary Waters, tragedy highlights work of all-volunteer rescue squad "



Also why would the insurance pay anyhow, EMS rescues so far the public has never been charged as you said gravel road.
I see in one iron range town they are going to close their EMS unit due to lack of funds.


I can see in the future because lack of funds for proper equipment volunteer EMS staff might decline. Why should they give their time and own money in many cases when people won't support them. Maybe that will be your child or family will not get the best aid needed?"


Agree, relying on volunteers is not sustainable. As plmn pointed out some of the volunteers (bless their heart for doing it) maybe shouldn’t even be doing it…

T
 
fenrirrr
member (43)member
  
06/22/2024 11:41AM  
Argo: "I believe the first question that needs resolving is, is the system broken?


I'm in agreement with those who are weary of the attendant media frenzy common with highlighted tragedies where the actual data don't support any exceptional circumstances in a broader context. I'm not concluding that there aren't exceptional circumstances. But policy should be data-driven, not emotionally driven.
....
"


Here here. I'll reiterate the data point from the MPR story:
The St. Louis County Rescue Squad said that just 5-10% of their roughly 400 annual calls are for BWCA/SNF incidents. Though these volunteer EMS teams do provide a critical service to wilderness users, it seems there are much larger dynamics threatening their viability.
 
06/22/2024 12:03PM  
From St. louis County; wilderness rescue.

Since the Rescue Squad was founded in 1958, the total call load has been approximately 40 percent wilderness related (searches and rescues), 25 percent public safety (motor vehicle accidents and medical emergencies), and 35 percent split between water and miscellaneous calls.
 
fenrirrr
member (43)member
  
06/22/2024 12:44PM  
Pinetree: "From St. louis County; wilderness rescue.

Since the Rescue Squad was founded in 1958, the total call load has been approximately 40 percent wilderness related (searches and rescues), 25 percent public safety (motor vehicle accidents and medical emergencies), and 35 percent split between water and miscellaneous calls."


The numbers in the MPR story are from the last eight years. BWCA/SNF calls over that period ranged from 16-30 per year (39 in 2020 being an anomaly). We can reasonably infer an average of less than one call per week during permit season.

The gov website you cited is using a much broader definition of “wilderness" response–including ATV/snowmobile accidents and criminal investigations in that category.

St. Louis County is the largest in the state by area, largest by population outside of the Twin Cities metro, and includes cities like Duluth, Hibbing and Virginia.

I get why Lake (11K) and Cook (5.6K) might rely on volunteers, but frankly I'm a little surprised that St. Louis County (200K) doesn't support a more professionalized search and rescue operation.

I don't mean to discount the service SLCRS provides to BWCA visitors in need, but I think it's important to keep in perspective the impact of those calls relative to the scope of the org's mission–and the county's responsibility to adequately support them.
 
06/25/2024 07:29AM  
As a volunteer ff/ first responder and person who filled out reports and such… the “calls” listed include aborted calls (10-22’d) and such. Most calls fortunately are response with minimal services needed. But do make statistics seem more dire.
But should you need a helicopter ride from a car crash or similar you are billed for that service. I do not see why these instances should be any different. The Curtain Falls deal was an example to me of a risk that was senseless! These guys SHOULD pay.
I had a deal where I had a freak radiator incident a week and a half ago that earned me an ambulance ride. Guess who gets to pay for it? And I’m willing… I was spared a lot of grief! If they want to downplay their responsibility and ask for help that’s their deal… I’m just full of sympathy today… Luckily for EMS type services there are many programs and such that do help funding of resources needed. But it takes kind of a savy sort to search for this sometimes. Sort of a search and rescue in itself.
 
billconner
distinguished member(8695)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
  
06/26/2024 06:40AM  
So do you pay for fire department or police response also? Pay fair share for emergency services on maybe worst day of your life but not for fair share of bwcaw use?
 
06/26/2024 07:46AM  
This has been a good discussion so far, lots of good points on both side and things to ponder. It’s all theoretical as none of us have any authority to make changes :)

Billconnor…I see your point. If we had a fee based system for emergency extractions, police, fire, people might wait too long to call for help and there is a good argument that the cost/risk may actually go up.

My only counter is in the BWCA the emergency extraction is usually at the higher cost/contribution for the local community for both in taxes and volunteers. Those of us going there possibly aren’t paying our fair share. At least there is an argument to be made…

That’s why I liked Pinetree’s fee to support those services. That and I think the BWCAW fees are ridiculously low anyway:) I can take my family of 4 for less than 60 bucks for a week. It’s close to $500 to do the same thing in Quetico as an example. So if I ever utilize services in the Q I feel like I have contributed…

Once again all theoretical…
 
ockycamper
distinguished member(1471)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
06/26/2024 09:53AM  
billconner: "So do you pay for fire department or police response also? Pay fair share for emergency services on maybe worst day of your life but not for fair share of bwcaw use?"


Yes, in fact, I do pay for fire and police protection. Its called taxes. However, in Minnesota and particularly the BWCA I do not. As others have posted, many of the emergency rescues seem to point to negligance or poor judgement. . . .(not wearing PFD's, wandering off from camp sites to go "bush whacking" with no idea where you are going, etc.)

Also, you seem to be on a vendetta to prove those that have purchased SAR insurance have wasted their money. While it may not be needed in the BWCA, that is not the case in many other areas. When I was with SPOT and had their SAR insurance there were many stories of people rescued that the insurance paid for.

Not buying the insurance is clearly your choice. But perhaps not questioning those that choose to buy it. . . who also know how to read. . .is a good idea?
 
billconner
distinguished member(8695)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
  
06/26/2024 05:15PM  
My only question was if there is a confirmed case of SAR having paid for any rescue activity in BWCAW or the Q. I have no more "vendetta" against SAR insurance than you have in favor of it. I do prefer to support the people that might save my ass, the local emergency services.

I never buy "extended warranties" either. I believe they're a total waste of money, someone's "additional profit" scheme.

PS: I did say check your insurance. My medicare and supplement clearly would cover medically necessary air ambulance, etc.

 
ockycamper
distinguished member(1471)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
06/26/2024 05:41PM  
Like you, I am on Medicare and have a great supplemental plan. Both would cover emergency transport. However, on the prior plan (before medicare) there would have been a large deductible. That is where the insurance would have kicked in.

As in your case, I no longer carry the additional insurance. I did, however, prior to turning 65.
 
cwallace
senior member (58)senior membersenior member
  
06/26/2024 05:54PM  
Also be aware just because they say they are a volunteer fire department, does not mean they are not compensated for the job they do.
 
06/27/2024 11:39AM  
Just thought I'd take the opportunity as a volunteer responder myself to put in a plug for volunteering YOURSELF as well! Money is good and all, but most volunteer departments need more people far more than money especially in rural/wilderness areas like where I volunteer and likely in places like the BWCA as well. You don't have to be Chuck Norris to make a difference either. We need all kinds of people.
 
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