Friends of the marathon and cycling community, the Forest Service has proposed to raise the fees on wireless communications sites on Forest Service land. (https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-12-22/pdf/2021-27681.pdf) This could affect communications during marathons, cycling, and similar events, as well as emergency communications. Many communications and broadcasting companies such as cell phone carriers, FM / TV broadcasters, and Wireless internet Providers will choose to offload this cost increase to customers or turn off translators where the cost can not be justified. Though this concerns me, I am reaching out on behalf of the Amateur Radio community.
In Utah, there are Amateur Radio repeater sites across the state on Forest Service land. Many of these sites are linked allowing communication to large areas with the push of a button. These cost increases may take these repeater sites off the air. Amateur Radio operators are often asked by organizers of marathons and cycling events to help with communications. These repeaters are used to relay information to give aid to participants and spectators. This can alleviate communication channels used by first responders to help those in serious need. A great example of that is our local Amateur Radio Club, the Bridgerland Amateur Radio Club. Where many members donate time, talent, and equipment to aid in events such as Bear100 and LOTOJA. (https://barconline.org/activities/) Hams are often called upon to relay communications during emergencies. (http://www.arrl.org/public-service) Many repeater sites bring communication into places where cellphones have no reach. Ham radio can be used to call first responders through repeater sites. Such as a case in 2020 when a van drove into the Logan River. (https://www.cachevalleydaily.com/news/archive/2020/05/30/rescuers-called-after-vehicle-rollover-in-logan-canyon/#.YgSdlt_MJPY)
It is illegal for amateur operators to receive compensation to participate in these events or help with emergency operations. This puts the cost of the repeaters on amateur operators themselves. If you participate in events like cycling and marathons or see the benefit of these repeaters for emergency commutations, please consider advocating for these repeater sites. Comments may be submitted online (https://www.regulations.gov/) 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. Comments must be received in writing by no later than March 31, 2022. Remember the lessons taught in 2007 when the organizers of the Chicago marathon choose not to use Amateur Radio operators to aid in communication. (https://ns9rc.org/news/chicago-marathon-radio-support)
-The Earth Luke
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