CORSAR card benefits the Colorado Search and Rescue Fund

Common Ground
Bill Kight

This past summer has seen its share of search and rescue events. With hunting season upon us, there may be more incidents of plucking people out of places of danger.Before getting yourself into trouble in the backcountry, there are a few things you might want to know about something called the Colorado Search and Rescue Fund.In Colorado, it’s the county sheriffs who are in charge of all search and rescue operations. In most Colorado counties, it is volunteer organizations that provide the sheriffs with people willing and able to be on call when needed.A special fund was created in 1987, called the Colorado Search and Rescue Fund, to help reimburse costs associated with these search and rescue operations.The way the fund receives money is from the purchase of a Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue (CORSAR) card. The cost is $3 for one year from date of purchase or $12 for five years.The card is not insurance if you get lost, nor is it a guarantee that you will be found. And if a helicopter or ambulance is needed once you are found, the cost of transporting you to a hospital is not covered.That said, you would be smart buying a CORSAR card if you are even thinking of stepping out into Colorado’s wilds.Let me introduce someone in order to give you an idea of the caliber of people behind the organizations that are a part of search and rescue operations.Last week I was traipsing through the woods with a couple of people from the 10th Mountain Hut Association.Ahead of the group, postholing through the snow, was Scott Messina. Though I consider myself in fairly good shape, I was having trouble keeping up with Scott.Among other things, Scott is a professional guide with Aspen Alpine Guides and a member of the Professional Ski Instructors of America. He is a trained avalanche instructor and teaches at Colorado Mountain College in Aspen.Scott is also a rescue leader and active member of Mountain Rescue-Aspen. He has been on the regional board of the National Mountain Rescue Board since 1999. There are many dedicated people like Scott who belong to search and rescue organizations that benefit from the couple of bucks that goes into the Colorado Search and Rescue Fund.To gain the inside story of search and rescue, “The Falling Season: Inside the Life and Death Drama of Aspen’s Mountain Rescue Team,” by Hal Clifford is a good read.The book aside, search and rescue is not glamorous. It’s lots of hard work by people who want to make a difference.You can also make a difference with a simple purchase. What’s your excuse for not buying a CORSAR card?Next time the backcountry beckons me, I think I’ll ask all the recreating folks I find enjoying the great outdoors with me one question.Buying a CORSAR card might save yourself some embarrassment when faced with, “What’s in your wallet?”With more than 25 years of experience in federal land management agencies, Bill Kight, of Glenwood Springs, shares his stories and issues with readers every other week.

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