Forest Service seeking input on Middle Bald Mountain communication tower

The Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland is preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) 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 Sheriffs 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. 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. 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 1 0-foot wide access road passable by heavy construction vehicles would 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 lower management level if required by the Forest Service. If required, 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. 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 power line would be installed overhead beginning in the Redfeather Lakes area, alongside County Road 162 (Deadman Road) to NFSR 300, alongside NFSR 300 to the open meadow of the summit. From that point the power line would be buried under the access road to the communication facilities. The proposed facility would include a 20 kilowatt diesel generator for backup power in the event of commercial power interruption.

It is anticipated that facility construction would take three to four months and would occur in a single summer season. Possible Alternatives The EIS 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, power line alignments, and installation methods; alternative access road alignments and designs; alternative building designs; alternative site locations for the tower and building near the summit of Middle Bald Mountain; other site designations that could include commercial users; and viable locations other than Middle Bald Mountain.

A 45-day scoping period for the EIS was initiated with publication of the Notice oflntent to prepare an EIS in the Federal Register on Friday, September 14. The Forest Service is soliciting comments from Federal, State, and local agencies, and other individuals or organizations that 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 key resource and other issues which will be analyzed in the Draft EIS. Those key issues could be used to formulate alternatives, prescribe mitigation measures and project design features, and analyze environmental effects. Public Scoping Meetings Two public scoping meetings will be held during the scoping period:

Tuesday, October 9, 2 -7 p.m.
Forest Supervisor’s Office, Continental Divide Conference Room Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland 2150 Centre Ave-Bldg. E, Fort Collins.

Wednesday, October 10, 2 -7 p.m.
Livermore Community Hall 1956 Red Feather Lakes Road (CR 74E), Livermore.

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 [email protected]. Include “Middle Bald Comment” in the subject line. Comments must be received by close of business (5 p.m.) on October 29. Late comments will be considered to the extent possible.

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