HOMER (AP) -- The Alaska State Troopers here say they've conducted four times as many search-and-rescue missions and have spent about half of the state's entire search-and-rescue budget since the beginning of this year.
Troopers in the Homer area have coordinated a dozen search-and-rescues since Jan. 1, at a cost of about $100,000. The trooper post at Homer conducted just three such operations at the same time a year ago, Sgt. Jim Hibpshman said.
The troopers can't account for why there have been so many more search-and-rescue operations this year unless it's been that people have been out enjoying some warmer-than-usual weather.
The state Department of Public Safety's search-and-rescue budget for this fiscal year is $237,000, which pays for charter helicopters and for buying other equipment.
Trooper time and equipment do not come out of that budget. But volunteer groups like snowmachine clubs always are ready to help, officials said.
Whether people who get lost should reimburse the state for their rescue has been debated in the Legislature and elsewhere. Hibpshman said he has mixed feelings about the issue.
''You have people who get out there and cost the state a lot of money and they're simply not being careful,'' Hibpshman told the Homer Tribune. ''But what about the person who's being safe and gets hurt (anyway)? There are two sides to the coin.''
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