ARRL Seeks Exemption from Proposed US Forest Service Communication Facility Fees

ARRL Seeks Exemption from Proposed US Forest Service Communication Facility Fees; Comment Period to be Re-Opened Through March 31


ARRL has filed comments with the US Forest Service (USFS) seeking an exemption for amateur radio facilities to a proposed new $1,400 annual administrative fee. The USFS proposal resulted from requirements in the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (aka “the Farm Bill”), which directs the Forest Service to collect fees for issuing communications use authorizations based on the cost to the agency for processing the applications, maintenance, and other related activities. These fees would be in addition to annual rental and cost-recovery fees already being collected.

On February 24, the Forest Service filed a Notice with the Federal Register that the comment filing window will be re-opened on March 1 and additional comments will be accepted through March 31. Any radio amateurs missing the first comment period or wishing to add to their earlier comments are encouraged to do so during this additional period.

“Although the discussion put forward by the Forest Service in its proposal focuses on commercial uses, the proposal would sweep within its requirements amateur radio uses that are solely noncommercial,” ARRL said in comments filed on February 22. “Radio amateurs establish and maintain facilities at certain locations for public service purposes with no remuneration or reimbursement. Unlike broadcasters and commercial wireless and fiber providers, radio amateurs are uniquely barred by the terms of their federal licenses from receiving compensation of any sort.”