Every year thousands of people are lost or injured in Colorado’s vast back country. Many are rescued by dedicated un-paid professional search and rescue personnel operating under the direction of Colorado’s County Sheriffs. Even though un-paid SAR personnel are used to search for and rescue people, the County Sheriff still incurs a cost for the SAR mission. Unfortunately, local budgets are often inadequate to cover the burden of search and rescue as more visitors seek the enjoyment and solitude of back country recreation.
In 1987, the Colorado State legislature established a Search And Rescue Fund to assist any agency or political subdivision of the State of Colorado for costs incurred in search and rescue activities involving persons holding hunting or fishing licenses, vessel, snowmobile, or off-highway vehicle registrations, or a Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue (CORSAR) card pursuant to section 33-1-112.5. of the Colorado Revised Statutes.
The Search and Rescue Fund provides a means of reimbursing these costs when search and rescue missions are conducted for persons licensed to hunt or fish or those using registered equipment such as snowmobiles or boats or holders of the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue (CORSAR) card.
The administration of the Colorado Search and Rescue Fund is the responsibility of the Department of Local Affairs and is managed by the department’s northwestern office in Grand Junction.
Moneys for the fund is provided by a 25 cent surcharge on hunting and fishing licenses, vessel, snowmobile, and off-highway vehicle registrations as well as 2/3 of the cost of the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue (CORSAR) card.
The first priority of the fund is to reimburse local Sheriffs for the costs incurred while conducting a search and rescue for a licensed person. These expenses could include rental, repair and operating costs for motor vehicles, aircraft, snowmobiles, horses and boats, necessary equipment, reimbursement of mileage, meals, and room rentals for un-paid search and rescue personnel, and the cost of helicopters or fixed wing aircraft deployed for a SAR mission.
For funds remaining at the end of the year, Colorado SAR teams, through their Sheriff’s Department, can apply for a grant from the fund to help pay for training and equipment.
It is important to note that the fund will not reimburse an individual that is the subject of a SAR mission for any costs incurred by that individual. For example: medical costs.
The growth in popularity of hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, climbing, camping and other activities not requiring licenses or registration means that many users are not vested in the fund. Thus, the Sheriff cannot be reimbursed for the costs incurred for that SAR mission.
Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue (CORSAR) Card
The Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue (CORSAR) card is a means to voluntarily participate in funding the cost of missions, training, and equipment for search and rescue in Colorado. In the event that a card holder is lost or injured in the back country, the county Sheriff can be reimbursed for the costs of a search and rescue mission for that person.
The CORSAR Card Is Not Insurance
The card is not insurance and does not reimburse individuals nor does it pay for medical transport. Medical transport includes helicopter flights or ground ambulance. If aircraft are used as a search vehicle, those costs are reimbursed by the fund. If the aircraft becomes a medical transport due to a medical emergency, the medical portion of the transport is not covered.
Purchase a CORSAR Card
To purchase a CORSAR card, please visit the DOLA SAR Fund web site at Purchase a CORSAR Card
Two-thirds of the cost of the card goes the the fund with one-third retained by vendors.