Card aids Search and Rescue

Item raises funds for all-volunteer organization

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— Outdoor enthusiasts shouldn't leave home without it.

The Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue card is essential for anyone who heads for the backcountry this winter.

"I can't stress how important it is when you are going to use the backcountry that you purchase one of these cards," Routt County Sheriff John Warner said.

Routt County Search and Rescue, the largest emergency service in the county, falls under the jurisdiction of the Sheriff's Office and works closely with the Sheriff's Office on every mission.

Sales from the CORSAR card reimburse the Sheriff's Office for costs incurred in search and rescue efforts.

If a CORSAR cardholder is lost or injured on a backcountry excursion, the Colorado Search and Rescue fund will refund any eligible expenses involved in the rescue mission.

Search and Rescue volunteers aren't paid, but mileage, food and general operating expenses can add up. If a rescue mission is drawn out over several days and requires more sophisticated equipment, such as a plane to spot people from the air, the costs of the mission escalate.

"It's a great help to us since we're an all-volunteer organization," Search and Rescue President Joe Stevens said.

The demand on Search and Rescue intensifies when the snow flies. One wintry day last month involved three different rescues. And two Colorado Springs snowmobilers were rescued Monday after spending Sunday night on Buffalo Pass.

But the card isn't just good insurance for backcountry skiers. Hikers, climbers, mountain bikers and kayakers should consider purchasing the card before heading out next summer, Warner said.

The card is available in Clark at Steamboat Lake State Park, Pearl Lake State Park and the Home Ranch. Steamboat Springs locations include Wal-Mart, Straightline Outdoor Sports and Search and Rescue's office at the ambulance barn.

South Routt locations include Stagecoach State Park and Montgomery's General Store in Yampa.

One-year cards cost $3. Five-year cards cost $12. Regional Division of Wildlife offices also sell the cards.

Proceeds from the CORSAR card go into the Colorado Search and Rescue Fund. The state Legislature established the fund in 1987 to compensate local sheriff's offices for the costs associated with rescue missions.

"It basically saves me from using the taxpayers' money," Warner said.

A 25-cent surcharge on hunting and fishing licenses, registrations for snowmobiles, off-highway vehicles and boats also finance the fund.

Any money left in the fund at the end of the year provides funding to train and equip search and rescue volunteers throughout the state.

The CORSAR card replaced the Colorado Division of Wildlife's Hiking Certificate. Hiking Certificates purchased prior to the CORSAR card are honored through their expiration date.

The state Department of Local Affairs administers the fund at its northwestern office in Grand Junction, with the help of an 11-member advisory board that represents sheriff's offices, recreational groups, the DOW and the state Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation.

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