National Parks Become Digital Battle Sites

In the Insight Section of the Saturday [30 Dec] Sac Bee’s Stuart Leavenworth has an article discussing the expanding use of cell phones in National Parks and the opposition by environmental organizations.  The part of the article which caught my eye was legislation supporting the expansion of cell tower on rural public lands to assist people living in rural communities to gain broadband access. Bill is summarized below:

Public Lands Telecommunications Act

This bill directs the Department of the Treasury to establish separate special accounts for the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the Forest Service (the federal land management agencies) for the deposit of rental fees received by such agencies for communications use authorizations on federal lands that are granted, issued, or executed by them. A “communication use authorization” is defined as a right-of-way, permit, or lease granted, issued, or executed by a federal land management agency for the primary purpose of authorizing the occupancy and use of federal lands for communications use.

The rental fees received by each federal land management agency shall:

be deposited in its special account, and remain available for expenditure, as provided in advance in appropriations acts, for agency activities related to communications sites (those areas of federal lands designated for telecommunications uses). The Department of the Interior and the Forest Service may enter into cooperative agreements to carry out those activities related to such sites.

The Bill is in committee and does not seem to be gaining much traction as it has been put forth by Rep Jarad Huffman in past sessions of the Congress.  It will be interesting to see how this bill plays with FirstNet which will link all public safety agencies. 

The Sac Bee is online but I cannot find a direct link to the Insight Section.

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