The act transfers the duties, powers, and functions of the department of local affairs (DOLA) related to backcountry search and rescue, the backcountry search and rescue card (card) and the backcountry search and rescue fund (fund) to the division of parks and wildlife (division), effective January 1, 2023. On and after January 1, 2023:
- All positions of employment and appropriations for personal services in DOLA related to backcountry search and rescue and the administration of the card and fund are transferred to the division;
- The division is required to administer the card program and to process requests for reimbursement for search and rescue efforts from the fund and assumes all rights and obligations previously vested in DOLA;
- The parks and wildlife commission is required to promulgate rules establishing the price and vendor fee for the card and the amount of the surcharges imposed on certain hunting and fishing licenses and on boats, snowmobile, and off-highway vehicle registrations that are credited to the fund; and
- The fund is continuously appropriated to the division to reimburse local governments for backcountry search and rescue efforts and to support search and rescue efforts throughout the state.
The act amends current laws providing immunity from civil liability in certain circumstances to volunteer firefighters and incident management teams responding to emergencies and to volunteers providing services to nonprofit organizations to include persons, including associated legal entities, engaged in backcountry search and rescue efforts.
A dependent of a person who died or was permanently disabled while engaged in backcountry search and rescue efforts is eligible for educational benefits that are currently extended to the dependents of individuals who die or are permanently disabled while on active duty as a Colorado National Guardsman or while working as a police officer, sheriff, or other law enforcement officer or firefighter.
One million dollars is transferred from the general fund to the wildlife cash fund for use by the division to support backcountry search and rescue efforts. If there is any unobligated and unexpended money remaining from that transfer on January 2, 2023, the remainder is transferred to the backcountry search and rescue fund.
The one million dollars transferred to the wildlife cash fund is appropriated to the department of natural resources for use by the division for backcountry search and rescue efforts.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as enacted.)