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FCC Issues Document Covering Broadcast Towers, Migratory Birds

The FCC released a 148 page Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment of the Antenna Structure Registration Program. Comments on the Assessment are due Oct. 3, 2011.

This assessment will have a major impact on owners and users of towers registered in the FCC's Antenna Structure Registration database. Towers located in areas where migratory birds could be affected by their presence will be required to submit an environmental assessment. Several alternatives are suggested. Depending on the alternative selected, some types of towers (self-supporting masts less than 450 feet in height and using a red steady-burning light, for example) would be excluded from the environmental assessment. Review the Assessment for details on specific alternatives.

Alternatives excluded by the FCC are those that would prohibit all new tower construction, prohibit towers exceeding a certain height, prohibit guy wires on new towers, or prohibit towers in certain locations.

Considering the amount of new tower work that is likely to be needed if the FCC implements the recommendations in the National Broadband plan and has to relocate many TV stations to new channels, the alternative selected could have an impact on the cost and time required for repacking. The alternatives presented in the Assessment offer some reasonable workarounds for protecting migratory birds from towers.

(Once the tower issue is dealt with, the government will be free to start working on methodologies for dealing with the impact of cats on migratory birds.)