This new Search and Rescue Assistance Card will get you home faster
The Park Record editorial, May 31 - June 2, 2017
May 30, 2017
If you wander off a snowy backcountry ski trail in the Wasatch Mountains, or take an unexpected plunge into a steep red rock canyon in the Utah desert, there are trained volunteers who will drop whatever they are doing to come find you. They will set out on snowmobiles, jump into inflatable rafts or rappel into narrow slot canyons to bring you home.
Their only reward? Seeing the tears and hugs when you are reunited with your loved ones.
It is impossible to repay that kind of selfless dedication. But now there is something that you can do to ensure Utah's Search and Rescue volunteers have the best training and the best equipment possible. Last week, the Governor's Office of Outdoor Recreation activated the long awaited Utah Search and Rescue Assistance Card which, for an optional fee, guarantees you won't be billed for that unplanned extrication.
The cost of the card is $25 per year for an individual, or $35 for a family, and covers all nonmedical search and rescue costs. Proceeds from the sale of the cards (100 were sold on the day the website went live) will be collected in a fund administered by the state's Search and Rescue Advisory Board.
The fund is currently subsidized by boat and recreational vehicle fees, and at the end of each year the money is divvied up to reimburse counties for a portion of their search and rescue training and equipment expenditures.
The reimbursements, though, are meager compared to the real costs involved. And, of course, some counties find themselves shouldering the burden of more lost souls than others — think of those that are blessed/challenged with National Parks, wilderness areas, rugged ski terrain and expansive mountain bike trails. They may have the most to gain from the new program.
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Grand and Utah counties, are at the top top of that list. But Summit County's Search and Rescue experts see plenty of action, too, and if local residents embrace the USARA Card program, the proceeds will benefit their hometown team as well as search and rescue squads throughout the state. That means, whether you are backpacking in the Uintas, carving fresh powder in the Wasatch, rock climbing in Zion or wandering in Waterpocket Fold, and need help, they are likely to find you faster and get you home more quickly. And they will be safer while they are doing it.
Utah's Search and Rescue Assistance Card is an important program for a state that takes pride in sharing its majestic natural landscapes. We hopes lots of Summit County residents and their outdoor-adventure-loving guests will support it.
To learn more and to sign up for the USARA card go to: rescue.utah.gov