The Wyoming Office of Homeland Security’s search and rescue committee is expected to tell 18 counties Thursday how much they will be reimbursed for search and rescue missions in the past year.
Nineteen of the state’s 23 sheriffs’ departments conducted 301 search and rescue operations from April 2012 to March 2013. Counties that have to rescue someone must pay for the mission until the committee decides how much to repay them.
The committee consists of three sheriffs, one county commissioner, one police officer, five private citizens and the director of Wyoming Homeland Security.
After receiving search and rescue costs from the sheriffs' departments at the meeting in the Riverton Holiday Inn, the committee will decide how to repay counties for fuel, helicopter use and other expenses, said Kelly Ruiz, public information officer for the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security.
Fremont, Teton, Sublette and Lincoln counties comprised the bulk of the operations conducted in the past year. July and February saw the highest number of rescues with 42 each. Wyomingites needed the most assistance out in the wild, setting off 242 missions. Last year there were 312 missions that cost $226,000. In the 2010-2011 season there were 259 missions.
The state has tried to quell the cost of rescuing people.
State Rep. Keith Gingery, R-Jackson, failed to get a bill passed in the Wyoming House this past winter that would have allowed a county sheriff to file a claim in court to recover money from people who were rescued. Money would be turned over to the state’s search and rescue fund, which reimburses county sheriffs for searches and rescues. The bill didn't include searches and rescues in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. The bill passed the House but died in the Senate.