“National parks are not legally required to conduct search-and-rescue operations…”
No one intentionally goes off exploring in a national park in hopes of getting lost or stranded. But every year the National Park Service conducts search-and-rescue operations in hopes of finding those missing in its parks… alive. In 2009, 3,568 of these operations happened at a cost of almost $5 million.
Parks are now considering charging the more adventurous visitors a “special use” fee to help cover the cost. This article by Rone Tempest asks the question “Who should pay for rescues?” Should those who have been rescued foot the bill? Should the U.S. adopt similar policies like Europe and require high-risk adventurers to have proof of travel insurance covering all aspects of these operations? And how do they determine if someone is high-risk?
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I have friends who are responsible mountaineers, but accidents do happen. I would think they would have peace of mind on the mountain knowing that if something went terribly wrong, then someone would come searching for them regardless of who paid.