CLEAN it up!

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Happy Earth Day! Or at least it was when I started my journey today.  Blue skies, the chirping of birds, mountains, and the bursting of wild flowers. But then, something happened to change all that.  Something that could have easily … Continue reading

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Middle Bald Mountain EIS Scoping Period

The Forest Service has finally announced the information for the public scoping period for the Middle Bald Mountain Tower EIS.  I am pasting the information from the Federal Register following my blog post.

Open houses to take comments on the proposed Middle Bald Mountain communications facility are scheduled as follows:

• 2 to 7 p.m. Oct. 9, Continental Divide Conference Room, Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland, 2150 Centre Ave., Building E, Fort Collins.
• 2 to 7 p.m. Oct. 10, Livermore Community Hall, 1956 Red Feather Lakes Road, Livermore.

Unlike the previous comment period, the Forest Service is refusing to allow a questions and answers session or allow any discussion of the tower at the open houses.  While this is allowable, we feel it violates our ability to have our questions answered in a public format.  If you believe that we should be allowed open discussion and questions, please contact:

Carol Kruse with the Forest Service –
Email – ckruse@fs.fed.us
Phone – 970.295.6663

We will be at the meetings and will be providing information to support our case against the tower and would love to see you there!

Federal Register Release

Action

Notice Of Intent To Prepare An Environmental Impact Statement.

Summary

The Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland is preparing an environmental impact statement to consider and disclose the environmental effects of constructing and operating a government-only, public safety radio communications facility near the summit of Middle Bald Mountain, in the Roosevelt National Forest. The Larimer County Sheriff’s Office has proposed construction of a site to improve public safety radio communications among government agencies, such as County and State law enforcement, local fire departments, Larimer County Search and Rescue, U.S. Forest Service, FBI, and other emergency responders and public service providers operating in the north central portions of the County. The proposed communication facility would also improve radio communication in areas of the Cache la Poudre Canyon (the Canyon) and State Highway 14 which currently have poor or no radio communication.

Table of Contents

DATES:

Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received by October 29, 2012. The draft environmental impact statement is expected to be issued for public review in February, 2013, and the final environmental impact statement is expected to be issued in April, 2013.

ADDRESSES:

Send written comments to Middle Bald Communication Site Comments, c/o Logan Simpson Design, 123 N. College Ave., Ste. 206, Fort Collins, CO 80524. Comments may also be sent via email to MiddleBald@logansimpson.com. Include “Middle Bald Comment” in the subject line.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Visit the Forest Service and Countyproject Web sites, http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/middlebald and http://larimer.org/baldmountain/, or contact Carol Kruse, Special Projects Coordinator,at (970) 295-6663. Further information will also be available at two public open housesto be scheduled in early October; the exact dates, times, and locations will be announcedlocally.

Individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Purpose and Need for Action

The purpose of and need for this action are to improve poor or non-existent VHF and 800 MHz radio coverage in the north central part of Larimer County, including Red Feather Lakes, Crystal Lakes, Glacier Meadows, the Canyon, State Highway 14, and in recreational areas in the Roosevelt National Forest. This lack of radio coverage also affects other public safety users, including local fire departments, FBI, Larimer County Search and Rescue, County Road and Bridge Department, the U.S. Forest Service, Colorado Department of Transportation, and the Colorado State Patrol. The principal land mobile radio system for Larimer County first responders is the 800 MHz State of Colorado Digital Trunked Radio System (DTRS); the County also operates a legacy VHF radio system.

The Forest Service has identified a need to provide reliable, all-weather, VHF and 800 MHz communications capabilities in north central Larimer County and in additional reaches of the Canyon that would allow fire and medical first-responders, law enforcement, and other government public safety and public service agencies to more-quickly and better assist the residents and recreational visitors during both emergency and routine incidents in those areas. The need was reinforced this summer during the Hewlett Gulch and High Park wildfires.

Installation of the proposed radio communications facility under the proposed action would meet the purpose and need by improving VHF and 800 MHz coverage and reliability in north central Larimer County and the Canyon for existing fire and medical first-responders, law enforcement, and other local, State, and Federal emergency and public services users of the VHF and 800 MHz radio systems.

Proposed Action

The proposed action is to construct a government-only public safety radio communications facility on Middle Bald Mountain for both VHF and 800 MHz communications equipment. On-the-ground testing of both VHF and 800 MHz radio signal coverage and signal strength indicates that a tower at that location would provide substantially improved VHF and 800 MHz coverage in northwestern Larimer County and in the Canyon. An approximately 70-foot high, 3-legged steel lattice tower and 200 square-foot building would hold equipment for use by Larimer County, local fire departments, the State of Colorado, the Forest Service, and search and rescue organizations.

During construction a 2,900-foot long and 10-foot wide access road passable by heavy construction vehicles would need to be built from National Forest Service Road (NFSR) 517 to the proposed site facilities near the summit. Post-construction, the access road could be rehabilitated to a level required by the Forest Service. Gates could be installed at the junction with NFSR 517 and where the access road exits treeline onto the open meadow of the Middle Bald Mountain summit, if required by the Forest Service.

Power for the communication facility would be provided by extension of the commercial electrical power grid from a location in Section 32, Township 10 North and Range 73 West. The approximately 12-mile long powerline would be installed overhead beginning in the Redfeather Lakes area, alongside County Road 162 (Deadman Road) to NFSR 300, alongside NFSR 300 to NFSR 517, alongside NFSR 517 to the point at which the proposed access road would leave NFSR 517, and alongside the access road to the point at which the access road exits the trees into the open meadow of the summit. From that point the powerline would be buried under the access road to the communication facilities. The proposed facility would include a backup 20 kilowatt diesel generator for use in the event of interruption of commercial power.

It is anticipated that facility construction would take three to four months and would occur in a single summer season.

Possible Alternatives

The Environmental Impact Statement will analyze the proposed action, No Action (no communication site on Middle Bald Mountain), and other action alternatives that may be developed after scoping. Other action alternatives could consider alternative power sources, powerline alignments, and installation methods; alternative access road alignments and designs; alternative building designs; and alternative site locations for the tower and building near the summit of Middle Bald Mountain.

Responsible Official

The responsible official is the Forest Supervisor for the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

The responsible official will decide whether or not to permit the proposed action or other action alternative that may be developed by the Forest Service as a result of scoping.

Permits or Licenses Required

A Special Use permit from the Forest Service would be required to implement the proposal or other action alternative that may be developed by the Forest Service after scoping. A non-significant Forest Plan amendment would also be necessary if the decision is to permit a communication site on Middle Bald Mountain.

Scoping Process

This notice of intent initiates the scoping process, which guides the development of the environmental impact statement. The Forest Service is soliciting comments from Federal, State, and local agencies, and other individuals or organizations who may be interested in or affected by implementation of the proposed project. Input provided by interested and/or affected individuals, organizations, and governmental agencies will be used to identify resource issues that will be analyzed in the Draft EIS. The Forest Service will identify key issues raised during the scoping process and use them to formulate alternatives, prescribe mitigation measures and project design features, and analyze environmental effects.Show citation box

It is important that reviewers provide their comments at such times and in such a manner that they are useful to the agency’s preparation of the environmental impact statement. Therefore, comments should be provided prior to the close of the comment period and should clearly articulate the reviewer’s concerns and contentions. There will be two public open houses approximately three weeks into the scoping period, at which written public comments will be accepted. Those meeting dates, times, and locations will be announced locally.

Comments received in response to this solicitation, including names and addresses of those who comment, will be part of the public record for this proposed action. Comments submitted anonymously will be accepted and considered.

Dated: September 5, 2012.

Glenn P. Casamassa,

Forest Supervisor.

[FR Doc. 2012-22366 Filed 9-13-12; 8:45 am]

 

 

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Do we REALLY need a tower?

Time after time, meeting after meeting, the Larimer County Sheriff’s Department has tried to push the urgency for a tower, bringing in their hand-picked “experts” with stories of woe and how dangerous it is for us not to have coverage in the mountains.

So today, let’s take a look at how bad the coverage really is…..

The High Park Fire covered an area of 87,284 acres, or 136.381 square MILES.  For a larger map you may go here:  http://www.inciweb.org/incident/2904/

As we all know, this was a HUGE fire, that spread in many directions.  You would have expected, as portrayed by previous “testimony” that there would have been large areas that would have been out of the coverage areas of the current radio system.

At a meeting following the fire, Red Feather residents were given maps by Commissioner Lew Gaiter, show what they were calling “problem” areas with radio coverage during the fire.

The map above shows the current 800MHZ coverage area.. There are 3  X marks on each map, depicting where there were “problems” with coverage during the fire.

As you can see from the map above, only ONE area, which lies in the Poudre Canyon, would have benefited from the presence of the tower.  The other 2 areas are still on the fringes of the “proposed” tower coverage.

Areas, such as Pingree Park, have been stated to have poor coverage, but apparently during the fire there were no problems.  Somewhat strange?
So, from looking at these maps, we have to ask ourselves, is it worth spending millions on a tower?  Is it worth building a tower on Middle Bald Mountain, an irreplaceable Alpine peak, which is located in endangered Lynx habitat?  Is it worth clearcutting 29+ acres of trees in an already damaged forest, to run power lines through?  Power lines which will clutter and obstruct the views and diminish your enjoyment of our national forest?

There is one more thing to mention here.  DTRS is designed for mobile radio.  This simply means that chances are better that radio signals in a VEHICLE may be improved.  Multiple sources have stated that there is no guarantee that coverage will be available to those people who are on the ground, in behind the mountains, working the fires, etc.  NONE.

Middle Bald Mountain is actually the THIRD choice on the counties list.  South Bald Mountain, which is in a roadless area, less than .53 miles from Middle Bald was their first choice.  Sheriff Smith has stated that the placement of 5 towers in the Poudre Canyon would be his ideal pick and it WOULD give them far better coverage.  The environmental impacts would be far less also.  But yet they continue to throw YOUR money away on the Middle Bald proposal.

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Larimer County Commissioners Hire New Company for EIS.

On July 23rd, the Larimer County Commissioners approved an agreement with AECOM Technical Services to do the Environmental Impact Study for the Middle Bald Mountain project.  This agreement was signed on July 24th.

Following the signing of the agreement, we learned that AECOM Technical Services is moving out of Ft. Collins and on August 15th, the contract was taken over by Logan Simpson Design, Inc.  Logan Simpson will employee the same key individuals that AECOM had in their proposal to the county.

Larimer County has just spent another $259,612.50 of our tax dollars, bringing the total sum to $870,179.50.

Larimer County stated a few months ago that it was facing a $10 million dollar shortfall and that they may have to remove deputies from the Poudre Canyon and Red Feather Lakes areas.  If that is the case, they why do they continue to throw away our tax dollars on a tower that may or may not work and they we do not need?  A tower that will in fact, destroy a beautiful Alpine peak and miles of forests?  Perhaps we should also mention that they are not telling you the other costs involved. such as yearly maintenance of both the tower AND the roadways leading to the tower.  Interestingly, rumor has it that Larimer County has a new snowcat….  perhaps purchased just so they can GET to the tower in the winter?
Coming next, trouble zones – or lack of, during the High Park Fire….

 

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What Will Be Destoyed – Part 2

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I took a trip up to Killpecker Rd. yesterday and thought I would share what I found.  I was only able to make it to the first gate, which was closed. The Larimer County Undersheriff has stated that the Forest … Continue reading

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What Will Be Destroyed?

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While listening to audio tapes of the Larimer County Commissioner’s meetings on the tower from 2008-2009, there has been one common thing missing.  There has been no discussion on what impacts there will be to the environment.  ZERO. ZILCH. NONE. … Continue reading

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Is This the Future of Middle Bald Mountain?

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I took at drive up Rist Canyon yesterday, taking the long route home.  Although I had “seen” these towers before, it wasn’t until yesterday that I really took the time to get a good look at them and their impact … Continue reading

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