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Skiing in dangerous areas could get a fine

Mon., Jan. 24, 2011, 4:15 p.m.

OLYMPIA — Skiers who venture into dangerous areas that are closed to the public could be fined up to $1,000 under a proposal being considered by the state Senate.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jim Kastama, D-Puyallup, calls for fines for any skier who crosses in to a marked area that has been closed because of dangerous conditions. Those skiers aren’t just risking their lives, they’re risking the lives of ski patrol members who go in after them, he said.

It does not prohibit back-country or off-trail skiing, he added.

Current laws make skiers liable for injuries or losses if they venture into areas closed because of dangerous conditions. But they don’t set up any penalties.

Members of the Senate Natural Resources Committee said they have questions about how the law would be enforced. Currently it calls for members of the ski patrol to gather information from the violators, write a report and forward it to law enforcement officials, who would then pursue a civil penalty.

Because resorts don’t have the authority to demand identification from their patrons, Chairman Kevin Ranker, D-San Juan Islands, said it would have to be realistic and not set up a situation where ski patrol members were being “semi-deputized.”

“That could get very complicated,” Ranker said. “I need to know this is realistically enforceable.”

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