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Final Programmatic

Environmental Assessment

for the Antenna Structure

Registration Program

Responsible Agency:

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS

COMMISSION

445 12th Street, SW

Washington, DC 20554

MARCH 13, 2012

This page intentionally left blank.

FINAL

PROGRAMMATIC ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT

FOR THE

ANTENNA STRUCTURE REGISTRATION PROGRAM

Responsible Agency:

Federal Communications Commission

445 12th Street, SW

Washington, DC 20554

Prepared by:

URS Group, Inc.

12420 Milestone Center Drive, Suite 150

Germantown, MD 20876

MARCH 13, 2012

This page intentionally left blank.

Acronyms and Abbreviationsv

Executive summaryES-1

1-1SECTION OneIntroduction

1-11.1Introduction

1-21.2Background

1-41.3Regulatory Framework

1-61.4Proposed Action

1-61.5Scope of the PEA

1-71.6Public Involvement

1-71.6.1Scoping Process

1-71.6.2Draft PEA

1-81.6.3Summary

2-1SECTION TwoPurpose and Need

2-12.1Purpose

2-12.2Need

3-1SECTION ThreeAlternatives

3-13.1No Action Alternative

3-33.2Alternative 1 Existing ASR Program with FAA Lighting Changes

3-43.3Alternative 2 Modifications to The ASR Program

3-53.3.1Alternative 2 Option A Require an EA for All Projects Submitted for Registration Except for Certain Changes to Existing Towers

3-63.3.2Alternative 2 Option B Limit which Projects Are Categorically Excluded and Require an EA for the Rest

3-83.3.3Alternative 2 Option C Make Permanent the Interim Requirement to Prepare an EA for All Projects More Than 450 feet in Height but Otherwise Do Not Change the Categorical Exclusion

3-103.4Alternatives Considered And Dismissed

3-103.4.1Prohibit All New Tower Construction

3-103.4.2Prohibit Towers That Exceed a Certain Height

3-103.4.3Prohibit Towers in Certain Locations

3-103.4.4Prohibit Guy Wires on New Towers

4-1SECTION FourAffected Environment

4-14.1Introduction

4-14.2Existing Communications Towers

4-14.2.1General Characteristics

4-24.2.2Number of Existing Towers

4-34.2.3Distribution of Existing Towers

4-34.2.4Future Needs/Trends

4-44.3Resources Not Affected

4-44.3.1Geology

4-44.3.2Soils

4-44.3.3Farmlands

4-54.3.4Groundwater

4-54.3.5Coastal Zones/Coastal Barriers

4-54.3.6Designated Wilderness Areas

4-64.3.7Air Quality

4-64.3.8Noise

4-64.3.9Land Use

4-64.4Water Resources

4-74.4.1Surface Water

4-74.4.2Wetlands and Waters of the United States

4-94.5Floodplains

4-94.6Biological Resources

4-104.6.1Vegetation and Wildlife

4-104.6.2T&E Species/Critical Habitat

4-114.6.3Migratory Birds

4-124.6.3.1Data Limitations and Uncertainty

4-134.6.3.2Migratory Bird Abundance

4-134.6.3.3Land Birds Breeding

4-174.6.3.4Land Birds Wintering

4-174.6.3.5Waterfowl Breeding

4-184.6.3.6Waterfowl Wintering

4-184.6.3.7Migratory Bird Geographic Patterns

4-204.6.3.8Migratory Bird Flight Altitudes

4-214.6.3.9Timing of Migration

4-214.6.3.10Avian Mortality from Communications Towers

4-234.6.3.11Other Sources of Avian Mortality

4-254.6.4Bald and Golden Eagles

4-264.7Cultural Resources

4-274.8Other Visual and Aesthetic Resources

4-274.9Economics

4-284.10Radio Frequency Radiation

5-1SECTION FiveEnvironmental Consequences

5-15.1Categories of Impacts

5-15.2Significance of Impacts

5-25.2.1Context

5-25.2.2Intensity

5-35.2.3Significance Determination

5-45.3Assumptions

5-45.3.1Tower Construction Footprints

5-45.3.2Number of Towers

5-45.3.3Tower Location

5-55.3.4Tower Height

5-55.3.5Support System

5-55.3.6Lighting Scheme

5-65.4Impacts by Resource

5-65.4.1Water Resources

5-65.4.1.1Surface Water

5-75.4.1.2Wetlands and Waters of the United States

5-85.4.2Floodplains

5-85.4.3Biological Resources

5-85.4.3.1Vegetation and Wildlife (Other than T&E Species/Critical Habitat and Migratory Birds)

5-105.4.3.2T&E Species and Critical Habitat

5-115.4.3.3Migratory Birds

5-245.4.3.4Bald and Golden Eagles

5-265.4.4Cultural Resources

5-275.4.5Other Visual and Aesthetic Resources

5-285.4.6Economics

5-305.4.7Radio Frequency Radiation

6-1SECTION SixCumulative Impacts

6-16.1Introduction

6-26.2Past, Present, and Reasonably Foreseeable Projects and Actions Considered

6-26.3Geographic Extent and Time Frame

6-26.4Cumulative Impacts to Migratory Birds

6-36.4.1Impacts from Existing Towers

6-36.4.2Impacts from New Registered Towers

6-46.4.3Effects from Climate Change

6-46.4.4Impacts from Other Sources

6-66.5Summary

7-1SECTION SevenFindings

7-17.1Overview

7-27.2Consequences of the No Action Alternative

7-37.3Consequences of Alternative 1

7-37.4Consequences of Alternative 2 Option A

7-47.5Consequences of Alternative 2 Option B

7-57.6Consequences of Alternative 2 Option C

7-67.7Cumulative Impacts

7-77.8Summary

8-1SECTION EightMitigation

8-18.1Overview

8-18.2Mitigation Arising From the EA Process for Individual Towers

8-28.3Additional Mitigating Measure by the FCC

8-28.4Additional Recommendations for Applicants

9-1SECTION NinePublic Comments on Draft PEA

9-19.1Overview

9-19.2Summary of Comments Received and BUREAU Responses

9-29.2.1Chapter 1 Introduction

9-29.2.2Chapter 2 Purpose and Need

9-29.2.3Chapter 3 Alternatives

9-49.2.4Chapter 4 Affected Environment

9-59.2.5Chapter 5 Environmental Consequences

9-99.2.6Chapter 6 Cumulative Impacts

9-109.2.7Chapter 7 - Findings

9-109.2.8Chapter 8 Mitigation

9-109.2.9Chapter 11 References

10-1SECTION TenList of Preparers

11-1SECTION ElevenReferences

List of Appendices

Appendix A Agencies, Organizations, and Individuals Consulted During the NEPA Process

Appendix BAvian/Tower Collision Literature Summary

List of Figures

3-2Figure 1: NEPA Flow Chart No Action Alternative

3-3Figure 2: NEPA Flow Chart Alternative 1

3-5Figure 3: NEPA Flow Chart Alternative 2 Option A

3-7Figure 4: NEPA Flow Chart Alternative 2 Option B

3-9Figure 5: NEPA Flow Chart Alternative 2 Option C

4-2Figure 6: Tower Types

4-15Figure 7: Bird Conservation Regions of the United States

4-19Figure 8: General Depiction of North American Avian Migratory Flyways

4-21Figure 9: Migratory Flight Altitudes for Various Bird Groups

5-13Figure 10: Mean Annual Bird Mortality and Tower Heights

5-13Figure 11: Mean Annual Bird Mortality and Tower Heights ( 80 percent) of all avian mortality attributable to human activity and cats. Klem et al. (2009) report that except for habitat destruction, collisions with clear and reflective building sheet glass cause the deaths of more birds than any other human-related avian mortality factor. They conservatively estimate that 1 billion birds are killed annually from collisions with building glass in the United States alone. The report further states that of the top ten species collected during two studies (one in autumn and one in spring) of collisions with buildings, ten and nine species, respectively, were migratory. Dauphin and Cooper (2009) report that free-ranging domestic cats may kill at least one billion birds every year in the United States, although they do not provide an estimate of how many of these birds may be migratory. However, the studies they reference (e.g., Balogh and Marra 2008; Hawkins et al. 2004) describe cat predation as the primary source of mortality to species (e.g., Gray Catbird and California Thrasher) that are listed as migratory. This and other studies have shown that domestic cats pose threats to many bird populations through their predation of adult, nestling, and juvenile birds. Predation risk from cats may also cause stress responses in birds that may contribute to bird population declines (Dauphin and Cooper 2009). Table 6 summarizes the mortality estimates from several sources.

Table 6: Sources and Estimates of Annual Avian Mortality in the United States (in millions)

Mortality Source

Klem et al. (2009)

Dauphin and Cooper (2009)

Erickson et al. (2005)

NWCC Committee (2001)

Sibley Guides

American Bird Conservancy

Buildings/

Windows

1,000

-----

550

98 980

97 976

-----

Power lines

-----

-----

130

0.01 174

174

10 154

Cats

-----

1,000

100

NA

500

-----

Vehicles

60

-----

80

60 80

60

10.7 380

Pesticides

-----

-----

67

-----

72

-----

Hunting

120

-----

-----

-----

15

-----

Communications towers

-----

-----

4.5

4 50

5 50

4 50

Wind turbines

0.4

-----

0.0285

0.01 0.04

0.033

0.01 0.04

Airplanes

----

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