Forest service fees
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Forest service fees

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You do not have to be a Ham Operator to be affected by this. If you or you know ANYBODY who appreciates the volunteer help from local Ham Clubs who provide communications for your events such as marathons, off road bike races, off road motor races or large special events or anything you can think of who us local hams for help, PLEASE send this to them and their groups and have them flood DC to stop this overreach.

Just copy and paste the five statements and anything else you want to add and send it to the web site provided. If these repeaters go down it could really hurt communications in the future in are times of need when other forms of communications have been shut down by the powers to be or other reasons.

What impact will the Forest Service Fee Proposal have on Amateur Radio?

First we would like to express appreciation to any who have already filed comments opposing the imposition of the proposed administrative fee on Amateur Radio users. We have receive numerous calls and email asking how will this affect us in Amateur Radio?

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.”

To be brief if the funding proposal is approved, any of the Amateur Repeaters that are located on Forest service property will be subject to an Annual Fee of $1400 per Communications Authorization (Repeater site). In many cases repeater operators will not be able to raise the funds to cover these costs annually so many repeater sites may end up having to terminate service or move to a location that does not provide the desired coverage.

When you file your comments please remember to include comments similar to those listed below:

  1. Amateur Radio Authorizations should be exempt from the propose Forest Service Fee list in the
  2. We amateurs operate our repeaters for the benefit of licensed amateur operators and by law are not permitted to charge fees to our users. (without pecuniary interest)
  3. Our service supports national, state, county, city and rural areas with emergency communications, public service communications, and special event capabilities at no fee or charge.
  4. If we should lose our repeater sites then many events: ARES, RACES, marathons, bike races, parades, special holiday events, annual food collections, would have to find alternate communications sources such as commercial radio services non amateur communications services.
  5. In Utah we presently have over 443 coordinated repeater frequencies, we estimate that approximately 95 repeaters or 22% are located on forest service lands that would be subject to these fees. To name a few Intertie Sites: Snowbird, Scott Peak, Levan, Monroe, Blowhard, Sawtell, Shaffer Butte, Mt Harrison could all be affected. This information was obtained from the Utah VHF Society Records (See the 2021 Repeater book)

In addition to filing comments it would be beneficial to express your concerns to your local and state elected officials. If the fee proposal should be approved we would hope that a congressional bill would be submitted to delete, change or modify the fee structure.

Please file your comments in your own words, be creative and make your filing individual. If comments appear to be identical they will be lumped together as one single filing. The dead line is 22 February 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 “RIN 0596-AD44.”

Thank you for taking your time to file, we need every ham to do this!

Mel Parkes, NM7P

President, Utah VHF Society