Few agencies are more valuable when it counts most than Routt County Search and Rescue.
The agency assists with every variety of incident that can occur in the Northwest Colorado backcountry, including lost hikers and skiers, stranded snowmobilers, crashed planes, stuck mountain climbers and just about anything else imaginable. The group of 50 to 55 volunteers is about to enter its busiest time of year, and it needs our help.
The city of Steamboat Springs and Routt County fund the organization's general operating expenses, but funding cuts last year reduced the agency's budget from $70,000 to about $50,000.
In a typical year, Routt County Search and Rescue will receive between 80 and 100 calls and participate in 40 to 50 rescue missions. A few intense search and rescues -- such as the operation last December to save three passengers from a downed plane -- quickly can drain the agency's funding.
That's why Search and Rescue's annual fund-raiser is critical to its mission. The fund-raiser allows Search and Rescue to replace worn and aging equipment used in rescue missions, such as snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles and trucks. In the past, the fund-raiser has paid for a Ford Excursion and a truck to carry Search and Rescue's Sno-Cats.
This year's fund-raiser is from 6 to 10 p.m. Tuesday at the Bear River Bar and Grill. Tickets are available from any Search and Rescue member or at Johnny B. Good's Diner.
For those who can't attend the fund-raiser, there is another way to support Search and Rescue -- the Colorado Recreation Search and Rescue Card. For hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, the cards are insurance in the event of a mishap. If an individual without a card requires assistance from Search and Rescue, the individual can be required to pay the costs of the rescue. Such costs add up quickly, particularly if a helicopter is involved in the search.
But if a CORSAR cardholder is lost or injured on a backcountry excursion, the Colorado Search and Rescue fund will reimburse Search and Rescue for the cost of the mission, at no cost to the individual.
One-year cards cost $3 and five-year cards cost $12. That's a small price to pay when weighed against the potential costs of a mission. Search and Rescue gets a portion of the proceeds from each five-year card it sells. The group will be selling the cards at the fund-raiser.
Routt County Search and Rescue generally fields more calls during hunting season and winter than any other time of year. Residents can help this important agency, if not by participating in the group's annual fund-raiser, then by purchasing a CORSAR card before heading into the backcountry.