This is hot off the presses from ARRL HQ, and I thought I’d send it out
to our NW Division members before any questions came up.
Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year to everyone!
ARRL to Oppose Forest Service Administrative Fees for Amateur
The US Forest Service is proposing to implement a statutorily required
annual fee for new and existing communications use authorizations to
cover the costs of administering its authorization program. ARRL plans
to vigorously oppose the imposition of the proposed fees on Amateur
The Forest Service proposal results from requirements set forth in the
Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (aka “the Farm Bill”).
Specifically, section 8705(c)(3)(b) of the Farm Bill directs the Forest
Service to issue regulations that require fees for issuing
communications use authorizations based on the cost to the Agency for
maintenance or other activities to be performed by the Agency “as a
result of the location or modification of a communications facility.”
The Forest Service is responsible for managing Federal lands and
authorizes the use and occupancy of National Forest System (NFS) lands
for communications facilities that provide communications services for
adjacent rural and urban communities. The Agency said in its proposal
that it administers more than 3,700 special use authorizations on NFS
lands for infrastructure that supports more than 10,000 wireless
communications uses at 1,367 communications sites.
According to the Forest Service Notice published in the December 22,
2021 issue of the Federal Register, revenues from the proposed fee,
“would provide the funds necessary to support a more modernized,
efficient, and enhanced communications use program,” and will “cover
the costs of administering the Agency’s communications use program.”
Costs, as laid out in section 8705(f)(4) of the Farm Bill, may include
expenditures for such things as “on-site reviews of communications
sites, developing communications site management plans, hiring and
training personnel for the communications use program, conducting
internal and external outreach for and national oversight of the
communications use program, and obtaining or improving access to
communications sites on NFS lands.”
ARRL encourages Amateur Radio licensees to file comments opposing the
imposition of the proposed administrative fee on Amateur Radio users.
Comments must be received in writing by no later than February 22, 2022.
Comments may be submitted online at the Federal Rulemaking Portal or
via USPS mail to Director, Lands & Realty Management Staff, 201 14th
Street SW, Washington, DC 20250-1124, and must include the identifier
ARRL Northwestern Division
Director: Michael T Ritz, W7VO