Colonel Kevin Jordan: (603) 271-3128
Lieutenant James Kneeland: (603) 744-5470
Lieutenant Heidi Murphy: (603) 271-3127
October 8, 2020
Concord, NH – Columbus Day weekend is the busiest period of the fall hiking season in New Hampshire for both expert trekkers and casual leaf peepers. As the temperatures cool and the foliage peaks throughout the Granite State, there will be a surge in hikers of all skill levels hitting the trails. In the wake of the COVID-19 public health emergency, however, all residents and visitors must put personal safety, responsibility, and respect for other outdoor enthusiasts first.
While this autumn represents a renewed natural connection for many, all outdoor enthusiasts must be aware that recreation requires year-round personal awareness, preparation, and responsibility for oneself and toward others while continuing to practice the recommended social distancing of six feet on all trails, at all trailheads, and in common areas such as parking lots. Face masks are advised, especially when social distancing cannot be maintained.
“This fall, people hiking must be aware of safe social distancing and their physical limitations,” said Fish and Game Law Enforcement Chief Colonel Kevin Jordan. “Unpredictable weather, extreme temperature fluctuations, and significantly reduced hours of daylight mean that people must be prepared with flashlights, layers of clothing that will keep the body warm and dry, and most importantly, hikers must know when to turn back. This is not the time for challenging hikes or dangerous backcountry adventures in rapidly changing weather conditions. It is imperative that people enjoying New Hampshire’s natural resources exercise a high degree of caution. Unsafe and irresponsible behavior puts first responders at extreme risk of injury and potential exposure to COVID-19 because social distancing becomes very difficult to manage in search and rescue situations.”
Colonel Jordan also strongly recommends as always that hikers be prepared and carry with them the top 10 essentials for New Hampshire’s changeable weather conditions and for unanticipated emergencies:
- Warm Clothing:
- Sweater or Fleece Jacket
- Long Pants (wool or synthetic)
- Hat (wool)
- Extra Food and Water
- Flashlight or Headlamp
- First Aid Kit/Repair Kit
- Rain/Wind Jacket and Pants
- Pocket Knife
Read more about safe hiking at www.wildnh.com/outdoor-recreation/hiking-safety.html.
Outdoor enthusiasts are also encouraged to purchase their voluntary annual Hike Safe card for 2020. Card sales help defray the costs of training and rescue equipment for NH Fish and Game Law Enforcement Conservation Officers, preparing them to come to your aid if the unexpected happens.
2020 Hike Safe cards cost $25 for an individual, or $35 for a family, and are good for the calendar year ending December 31, 2020. The price is the same for both residents and nonresidents.
Cards can be purchased online at www.wildnh.com/safe and at New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Headquarters at 11 Hazen Drive in Concord.
Purchasing a hunting or fishing license also provides you with the same protection as a Hike Safe card. In addition to Hike Safe card revenues, Fish and Game’s Search and Rescue Fund is supported by a $1 fee collected for each boat, snowmobile, and OHRV registered in New Hampshire.
Blaze orange is a common-sense safety precaution for hunters–and hikers! To watch a video that demonstrates the immediate effectiveness of blaze orange, visit https://player.vimeo.com/video/47113670.
It’s your responsibility to hike safe. Be sure to follow the hiker responsibility code by being knowledgeable about where you are going and what the local weather and terrain conditions will be, leaving your plans with someone, turning back in inclement weather or if you are running out of daylight, and planning for emergencies. Visit www.hikesafe.com for more information.