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January 6, 2010
Alaskan agencies to start billing for off-road rescues
By Zaz Hollander
WASILLA, Alaska — Within months, the Mat-Su Borough plans to start billing people for off-road rescues.
That will make the Mat-Su one of very few entities in Southcentral to engage in the disputed practice. Most agencies rescue people for free. Only the Anchorage Fire Department charges a fee, and then only when responders leave the department's service area.
Nationally and in Alaska, many search-and-rescue groups oppose billing for backcountry saves. They say the prospect of a fee can make people wary of calling for help, or trigger delays that complicate rescues, especially in the mountains.