A bipartisan bill from 12th District state Representative Keith Goehner is moving to the Senate after unanimously passing the House.  

The measure would support back country rescue operations. 

The measure would create a mechanism or grant program to fund search and rescue volunteers' planning, equipment, training, exercise, and operation costs. 

It would also allow counties and nonprofit groups to get reimbursement through the program for search and rescue costs. 

Chelan County has seen a major spike in back country search and rescue calls because of its well-known mountains, trail systems, and rock-climbing options. 

Goehner-R, who lives in Dryden, spoke on the House floor Tuesday, where he said the need for rescues missions will continue to grow as more people head to Washington’s backcountry. 

"We have some great areas in the state of Washington - they're very attractive to people, not only Washingtonians but people throughout the world," said Goehner. "But unfortunately, Madam Speaker, there are times when things don't go the way they planned, and they do need to rescue." 

The Washington State Military Department's Emergency Management Division estimates there are about 1,000 search and rescue missions a year. 

Under the measure, House Bill 2257, the Military Department would administer the program, and an account would be created in the state treasury. 

The account would accept money from legislative appropriations, donations, gifts, grants, or funds from other public or private sources. 

Goehner's bill has nine co-sponsors, including seven Democrats. Fellow 12th district Republican Rep. Mike Steele-Chelan is also one of the co-sponsors. 

The bill beat a Tuesday night deadline for bills to pass out of the full House or Senate in order to move to the other chamber. 

After passing the House, Goehner's bill will have until the the end of the legislative session Mar. 7 to complete the process in the Senate. 

Washington State Pass Snow Report: February 12-15, 2024