The fund was created in 1987 for the purpose of reimbursing political subdivisions and search and rescue organizations for expenses incurred in conducting search and rescue operations within the State of Colorado.
If you purchase fishing or hunting licenses, a stand-alone Colorado Wildlife Habitat Stamp, or register an off-highway vehicle, boat or snowmobile, you automatically contribute to the fund. Another way to contribute to the fund is by purchasing a Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue Card.
The fund reimburses on actual operating expenses incurred by local governments and teams during search and rescue missions. Those expenses include reasonable costs incidental to SAR activities such as: fuel, repair and rental of motor vehicles, fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters (when used for search and/or rescue not medical evacuation), snowmobiles, boats, horses, generators and any other equipment necessary or appropriate for conducting SAR activities; reimbursement of mileage at the appropriate state rate; meals and room rental for personnel and any other similar expenses.
No, the fund is not an insurance program. It does not reimburse individuals for expenses incurred such as medical transport and medical expenses. Medical transport includes helicopter flights or ground ambulance.
Responsibility for management of the Colorado Search and Rescue Fund lies with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. It is administered out of the department's Denver office and operates pursuant to C.R.S. 33-1-112.5.
Yes, the Department of Local Affairs is assisted with administration of the fund by the Search and Rescue Advisory Council. The Council is comprised of individuals knowledgeable and interested in search and rescue in the State of Colorado. At any given time, Council membership includes representatives from: county sheriffs, the Colorado Search and Rescue Board, county commissioners, the Colorado Division of Wildlife, the Colorado Division of Parks and Recreation, hunters, anglers, wildlife advocates, off-highway vehicle users, boaters, snowmobile enthusiasts, backpackers, hikers, mountain bike riders, equestrians, elected officials and cross-country skiers.
Who responds to your emergency is dependent on existing state law and local ordinances. Rescuers may be volunteer and/or public safety agencies. Colorado residents and visitors are well served by dedicated volunteer search and rescue teams. By participating in the fund, you are supporting those volunteers who give their time and expertise to provide a safety net for unforeseen events that may occur in Colorado’s beautiful backcountry.
Some municipalities and special taxing districts have billed victims for some expenses related to their rescue. We are unaware of a volunteer search and rescue team who has billed a victim for costs the team has incurred. In all cases, the Colorado Search and Rescue Fund attempts to reimburse on all eligible expenses to prevent billing of victims. The fund is unable to reimburse any salary, overtime or stipend paid to any person permanently employed by a SAR agency or political subdivision of the state. In addition, the fund does not reimburse indirect operating expenses, such as stand-by costs, of vehicles and equipment owned by a local government.