Officials Weigh Whether to Charge for Search-and-Rescue

Officials Weigh Whether to Charge for Search-and-Rescue

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(Salt Lake City-AP) -- Search-and-rescue missions in Utah's rugged backcountry don't come cheap.

For years, lost hikers and wayward rafters have sometimes had to foot the bill when rescuers pluck them out of the red-rock wilderness. Problem is, many of them don't pay.

The number of rescues has risen along with tourism. Local officials have struggled to find ways to fund the missions, which can quickly add up in costs. Now Grand County is turning collection agencies on those who fail to foot the bill.

County officials say it costs 245 dollars just to get crews out the door.

But some rescuers worry that aggressive collections might cause people to continue wandering in dangerous wilderness rather than call for help if they find themselves stranded, stuck in a tight crevasse or in a rushing-water canyon.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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