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Include CORSAR card in your list of winter gear purchases

In Wednesday’s paper, we ran a story about a busy week for Grand County Search and Rescue. In one week, they were called to find four hunters and a lost hiker.

Unfortunately, the article wasn’t an unusual thing to publish this time of year ” or any time of year. Lost hunter season, leads into lost snowmobiler season, which leads into lost hiker and ATV rider season.

There is rarely a down time for our local search and rescue team.

Thumb through the archives of any Colorado newspaper and you’ll see the stories of people disoriented by storms, alcohol and inexperience.

What those stories don’t usually address is the expense that goes into those rescues.

There are fuel costs, insurance costs and equipment costs ” especially if a helicopter or plane is needed.

In Colorado, a Search and Rescue Fund has been set up to help cover the costs of outdoor rescues. It is paid for through a 25-cent surcharge on hunting and fishing licenses and on any vehicle registration for a boat, snowmobile or ATV.

If you spend time in the outdoors, but don’t have a hunting or fishing license, you can purchase a Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue (CORSAR) card for $3 a year or $12 for five years, which benefits the same fund.

When an agency applies for reimbursement at the end of the year, if the rescued had a CORSAR card, that reimbursement is given priority over the rescues of non-card holders.

You can buy a CORSAR card from any Grand County Search and Rescue member or buy them on the Colorado Department of Local Affairs Web site (http://dola.colorado.gov/dlg/fa/sar/sar_purchase.html).

At the end of each year, sheriff’s departments and rescue organizations can apply for reimbursement from the fund for costs incurred during a rescue.

The card isn’t insurance, said Greg Foley, a mission leader and field director for Grand County Search and Rescue. “We don’t come up to someone and say, ‘Let me see your (CORSAR) card. And we don’t send a bill.

“We never charge for a rescue. We have never, ever charged.”

The point of buying a card is not to ensure that you don’t get charged for a possible rescue in the backcountry. But if you spend time in the outdoors ” putting yourself in potential danger and need of assistance ” it is your responsibility to make sure that those people who put themselves at risk to save you have their expenses covered.

If there is any money left over in the fund at the end of the year, after everyone has been reimbursed, the rest is granted out to groups like our local Grand County Search and Rescue for training and equipment.

If you don’t already have a CORSAR card in your wallet or a hunting or fishing license, this winter as you replace worn gloves or buy new skis, include the $3 card in your list of gear purchases.

And if you love the outdoors and want to further help the efforts of Grand County Search and Rescue, they are always looking for volunteers.

Call Greg Foley at (970) 531-1555 or leave a message at (970) 726-8595.


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