Board unveils new Search and Rescue Card |

Board unveils new Search and Rescue Card

Jeff Swanson

A new safety card from the Colorado Search and Rescue Board may help to save the lives of some outdoor enthusiasts. This year, the board is offering hikers, fishermen and hunters a new card that can help defray expenses from Sheriff’s departments and search and rescue teams, who are often called into action to rescue stranded or lost hikers.

The new Search and Rescue Card replaces the state’s Hiker’s Certificate, which was previously offered to outdoorsmen at sporting goods stores, gun shops and outdoor recreation shops throughout the state. The card was unveiled on July 1, and according to officials, the new system should make dispersal easier for both users and retailers.

“This new card is going to be a lot better for everyone involved, and I think people are going to like the new system that we now have in place,” said Howard Paul, public affairs specialist for the Colorado Search and Rescue Board (CSAR). “It was a real pain for a lot of retailers who used to use the Hikers Certificate system, because they would make literally pennies on the dollar for dispensing the cards. With this new program that we have in place, it is going to be a lot more enticing for retailers to distribute these cards, and easier for the users as well.”

In the past, Hikers Certificates were available in one-year increments, which cost users $1 per year. They were also available in five-year increments, at a cost of $5. Out of the $1 fee, retailers made 5 cents per card, which, according to Paul; was hardly worth retailers efforts to sell them.

The new cards will cost $3 per year, with $1 from the purchase of each card going to the vendors.

“The new Search and Rescue cards are going to cost $3, and despite the fact that it is a slight increase from past years, it is going to be better for everyone involved,” said Sue Schnieder of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. “Once we get a marketing plan in place, people are going to find out that this system is going to be easier to use, and also more rewarding for retailers.”

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The program was unveiled July 1, and is already in use at Country General in Craig, which is the only local retailer participating at this time. In Steamboat Springs, Straightline Outfitters and Wal Mart are both distributing the cards. Wal Mart stores statewide also have cards available.

Search and Rescue efforts are also funded by fishing and hunting licenses, which along with boating and vehicle registrations, make up the financial backing for the program.

Last year, the program took in $439,000, with $80,000 being put toward rescue efforts. The remaining amount is dispersed to search and rescue teams throughout the state to help pay for advanced training, supplies and to purchase equipment necessary for search and rescue efforts.

“Once the expenses have been met, rescue teams can apply for the extra funds through our board,” Paul said. “It really helps us to be prepared in the case of an emergency, and allocating these funds to the appropriate groups helps to balance it out throughout the state as well, so that we can provide services to the necessary areas.”

Even without the purchase of a Search and Rescue card, outdoor enthusiasts can still be rescued by emergency personnel, however, according to Paul, in the future that may not always be the case.

“The last thing we want people to do is not call us if there is an emergency situation where they need help,” he said. “Our search and rescue teams provide assistance as a free service, and we want to keep it that way. However, if we don’t have the necessary funds in the pot, the next time someone needs assistance, there may not be the money available to do what needs to be done to get someone to safety.”

For more information on the Colorado Search and Rescue Card, or to order one, call the Department of Local Affairs at (970) 248-7310.

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