ABOUT

CSAR’s mission is to empower every search and rescue team and partner in Colorado to accomplish their goals and duties better through advocacy, coordination, collaboration, and education.

A Colorado Parks and Wildlife study showed that 92% of Coloradans recreate outdoors, and 62% recreate in parks, trails, and open spaces one or more times a week. In addition, out-of-state visitors to Colorado have increased steadily in the past 20 years. It’s not surprising that backcountry search and rescue (BSAR) teams in the state are busy -- and getting busier.

Image

Backcountry Search and Rescue (BSAR)

Backcountry search and rescue is defined in Colorado statute as, “The utilization, training, and support of responders, with their specialized equipment, coordinated by a sheriff to provide the services described in this subsection during emergencies or disasters in forests, deserts, mountains, canyons, caves, waters, parks, plains, and at times, in more populated areas.”  The subsection continues by describing BSAR services which include finding and extricating lost or injured people, providing emergency care, recovering the bodies of deceased individuals, providing public backcountry safety education, training volunteers to provide these services, and supporting their physical and mental well-being.

BSAR efforts in Colorado are mostly a local issue, with county sheriffs required to coordinate efforts within their counties. They do this by relying on BSAR teams, most of which are nonprofits staffed by professional volunteers. These teams do not charge for their services.  

Until recently, the only state funding support for this important work was $400 - 500k in annual grants from the Department of Local Affairs’ SAR Fund. Most of these funds are raised from a 25-cent surcharge on hunting and fishing licenses; motorboat, snowmobile, and OHV registrations; and the sale of Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue (CORSAR) cards.  

Image

Because of our legislative efforts in 2020 - 2022, BSAR teams in Colorado are now beneficiaries of the Keep Colorado Wild program.  When Colorado residents register vehicles, they may automatically purchase a heavily discounted state park pass.  Funds from this program go to state parks, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, and the BSAR Fund, which is administered by Colorado Parks and Wildlife and provides an inflation-adjusted $2.5 million annually to support professional volunteer responders and their local BSAR teams.

CSAR assists its member teams in several ways. Our state coordinators rotate in an on-call role to facilitate resource requests from any county that needs help, whether it be additional responders from other teams, dog teams from other counties, helicopters from the National Guard, cell phone forensics from the Civil Air Patrol, or other specialized resources. CSAR also provides training programs and conferences, advocacy, best practices, and collaboration tools for its members. Finally, we work to prevent backcountry incidents through our public safety education efforts.

If an incident becomes a state-declared disaster, CSAR works closely with the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to ensure the right BSAR resources are available. CSAR and the BSAR teams work closely with a host of State of Colorado departments, federal agencies, the Colorado National Guard, the Civil Air Patrol, and a great number of other for-profit and nonprofit entities and local agencies, not to mention our colleagues from other first response agencies and the health care systems.


Roughly
0
BSAR Teams in
Colorado
Approximately
0
Incident responses
Annually
Typically More than
0
Incident hours
annually
Over
0
Total Volunteer Hours
Annually

FAQs


History

For years we show no record of organized search and rescue in Colorado. If someone were lost in the backcountry, the nearby residents would go looking for them. In the Boulder area, the guides and other mountaineers would band together to bring in a lost or injured climber.

After a critical incident on Navajo Peak in December of 1946, people began to think about organized rescue. A meeting was held in March of 1947 to form Boulder County Rescue, which later that year became Rocky Mountain Rescue Group (RMRG). They worked as the only team in the state until the fall of 1957, when the Arapahoe Rescue Patrol was formed in Littleton. The next team to organize was the Alpine Rescue Team in Evergreen in 1959.

Image
In addition to these teams in the late 1950's there were numerous semi-official sheriff's groups, radio groups, clubs and church groups. Lack of policies and coordination resulted in considerable confusion and competition in the field. Efforts to create an association began in the early 1960s, and after several early organizational iterations, the Colorado Search and Rescue Board (CSRB) was formed in 1970 to concentrate solely on the search and rescue function in Colorado. The Board was originally composed of eight members without regard for unit representation. Its first meeting was held on November 17, 1970, under the leadership of Chairman Chuck Demarest of RMRG.
Image
Image

Since then, CSRB has grown and evolved to be the representative organization that it is today, and teams designate specific members to represent them to the Board. Committees composed of individuals from member teams tackle projects in SAR skills education, helping with preventative search and rescue education (PSAR) and coordinated messaging for the general public, advocating for BSAR-related legislation, collecting statistics for resource needs analysis, and coordinating grant monies received on behalf of the teams. In 2019, CSRB changed its name to the Colorado Search and Rescue Association (CSAR). Countless members from many teams volunteered their time in the early days of CSAR’s formation, and we owe a debt of gratitude to all of them.

Image
Image
Image