To The Daily Sun,
Every day, outdoor lovers visit the beautiful Belknap Mountains. As many residents of the Lakes Region know, the hiking trails in the Belknap Mountain State Forest are maintained by local volunteers known as the Belknap Range Trail Tenders ("BRATTS"), a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
The New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development ("DRED") is fast-tracking House Bill 1569, in which it asks lawmakers for authorization "to charge such volunteer organizations a portion of the department's cost for liability insurance coverage."
In other words, the state is saying that volunteers will need to pay the state in order to volunteer on state property.
The BRATTS have no paid employees, receive no government grants, and receive only a few hundred dollars a year in donations from their volunteers to fund equipment purchases. The BRATTS have never been sued, nor can they afford to pay the state for liability insurance.
Volunteer groups should be protected from frivolous lawsuits. However, if HB1569 passes as proposed, it may mean the end of the BRATTS and the thousands of hours of volunteer work they have performed to keep our local trails passable.
Rep. David Russell of Gilmanton is one of the sponsors of this legislation. I urge you to contact your state legislators and ask them stop this effort to charge volunteers for their work.
- Category: Letters
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