Many people believe that your fishing license provides emergency coverage under any circumstances. As a frequent issuer of the Colorado Fishing License, I have run into the topic more than once. Time and time again, questions arise about the true purpose and use of the search and rescue fee. So let's set the record strait...
Not sure how many licenses I have issued over the past couple seasons but I have to estimate around 500-700 per season. Just want to assert my credibility on the topic. People either do one of two things when they come into the shop to get their blue ticket to fish and take a moment to go over the various fees. They will ask me, “what does that mean, exactly?" Or, they will say assuredly, “That fee covers me for a helicopter ride if I need one right!” The real story differs slightly. I imagine that the genesis of the more common and incorrect tale began as an assumption and became misconstrued as truth over time, or is just a straight up lie where some self-proclaimed expert said it was so.
The truth is, no, you are not completely covered for the cost of an extraction by helicopter or any other expensive forms of rescue that you may require.
So don't be a dummy and assume, ‘whelp, I'm a little lost here and its getting dark’, maybe I’ll just call for a chopper, I mean I am covered by that $0.25 I paid on my fishing license. You will end up with a hefty bill and be feeling cheated.
This comes straight from the "horse's mouth": A lovely lady, whose name I cannot recollect, came into the shop last season and confirmed that she was a member of the Summit County Search and Rescue Team. It was actually she who was in search of the hunting/fishing license. The fee came up in our small talk conversation and she took the opportunity to explain where it goes and what it’s for. Here it is, the truth! This small fee is used to fund the search and rescue operations. Search and rescue teams are allowed to apply for grants from this fund to acquire equipment. Last summer season the Summit County Search and Rescue Team applied for some new ATV’s and they got them.
So there it is folks; think of the Search and Rescue fee as a donation that you are making towards search and rescue. It is not an insurance policy that the state has created for you to go get lost or injured in the backcountry. I want to conclude by thanking the person who decided to discern this small fee from the regular overall price of your license on the license. In the end, the sight of this fee probably just created more problems than it helped, so, thanks, guy.
Cutthroat Angler Guide and Valuable Member of our Shop Staff