Communication site proposals available for public comment

Posted: Friday, November 20, 2009

JUNEAU - The U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service are seeking input on proposals to permit, construct, operate and maintain search and rescue communications facilities in Middle Cape area of the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge and within Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.

This input marks the beginning of a process under the National Environmental Policy Act used to decide whether to issue a right-of-way permit and authorize construction. Comments will help the agencies to determine what issues will be addressed in an environmental assessment.

"By participating in the NEPA process, the public will have input in what we look at, where the facilities should be located and what alternatives may be available," said Joseph S. Calnan, commanding officer of Rescue 21 Project Resident Office Alaska. "We are aiming to bring added safety to those who work and play on the water while minimizing the impacts to the environment."

A preliminary review of communication coverage was conducted with the National Park Service to identify potential locations for remote fixed facilities within Glacier Bay National Park, and another review with the Fish and Wildlife Service to identified potential locations within the Kodiak Refuge and adjacent areas.

Yearly the Coast Guard responds to about 60,000 emergency calls and saves nearly 5,000 lives when people find themselves in distress and in need of assistance on the water. In Alaska, responding to these distress calls can be challenging due to topography and weather conditions.

To better assist in monitoring and responding, the Coast Guard has identified the need to modernize outdated search and rescue communication facilities and expand the overall network as part of a nationwide mandate.

The agencies have sent out letters inviting any comments, issues and concerns that interested parties might have. Comments may be sent to William Freeland, environmental protection specialist with Rescue 21 PRO Alaska, 100 Savikko Road, Douglas, AK 99824.

Comments may be posted concerning Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve on the National Park Service Planning, Environment and Public Comment website at: People interested in receiving further information on this and other projects may request to be placed on a mailing list.

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