Colorado asks adventurists to pay for search and rescue card

Posted at 10:38 PM, Aug 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-02 00:38:17-04

DENVER, Colo. -- Before you head out to conquer your next 14er or backpack through the Rocky Mountains, Colorado wants you to buy a $3 card to help pay for search and rescue.

"We're seeing the population in Colorado is increasing, but we're also seeing a really large increase in tourism and those folks don't even know this card exists," said Denise Stepto with the Department of Local Affairs.

It's called the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue Card, short for CORSAR.

The state said there were 1,655 rescue missions last year, which is a 32 percent increase compared to 2014 which had just 1,250 rescues.

The card costs $3 for one year, $12 for five years, and goes a long way towards supporting local search and rescue teams.

"There's no funding in the state that funds them to do this operation," said Stepto.

Earlier this year rescue teams rescued a hiker who got stuck on a ledge at Horsetooth Falls.

"They're critical, they're absolutely critical, I mean if you put yourself in the shoes of someone who's been rescued it's frightening, many people are not expecting, that's why it's an accident," said Stepto.

 The CORSAR cards can be purchased online or through a list of local vendors.

Stepto said if a lost hiker doesn't have a CORSAR card, the state can't reimburse the local sheriff -- which means it has to come out of their own county budget.

"It doesn't mean that you won't be rescued if something happens this volunteer team will come and get you, but it's too offset the cost," she said.

A small investment, that could one day help save your life.

"We have to think about how are we going to get rescued if something happens, heaven forbid," said Stepto.

The card is not insurance, and is only used to cover costs like searchers going up into the mountains looking for a lost hiker. Medical or flight for life costs are not covered.

If you have a fishing or hunting license, you've already paid for search and rescue costs.