Steamboat Springs Despite the need to search for three lost hunters in one blizzard last month, Routt County Search & Rescue costs have stayed at a manageable level, group officials report.
As of Oct 31, the group’s costs for the year were only $3,000. However, more bills are coming in on those three searches in north Routt County, and member Joe Stevens estimates another $6,000 in costs will be assessed.
The last two months of the year are usually the worst for search costs, too, so Search & Rescue officials nare crossing their fingers.
“I think we’ve been kind of lucky this year,” Stevens observed. Last year, the group spent a record $48,000, triple it’s costs in1990.It had to approach Routt County officials for emergency funds until the state reimbursed the group.
The state reimburses search crews for the cost of looking for people who have hunting and fishing licenses. A license sur-charge supplies the state’s search and rescue fund.
The use of military helicopters helped keep Routt County Search & Rescue costs down this year. Warren Air Force Base officials in Wyoming did dozens of hours of work without charge so copter pilots could gain valuable experience, Stevens said.
The use of private helicopters can make Search & Rescue costs soar, since charges run up to $1,000 per hour. However, a new technology for helicopters could end up reducing costs and search time considerably.
A copter pilot in Montrose may obtain one of these infrared cameras, and if so, Routt County Search & Rescue is likely to utilize that pilot frequently.
The infrared can spot living beings miles away, and it shows shapes that reveal if the animal is human , said S&R official Bill Keller. It picks up temperature differentials of two degrees.
Local Search & Rescue officials recently received training on how to use the infrared cameras.
“It’s just going to eliminate a lot of search areas very quickly,” Keller predicted.