Replacement of a Communications Tower in Everglades National Park
The project: Verizon Wireless Personal Communications, LP (Verizon Wireless) has submitted an application to the NPS for a right-of-way permit to install wireless telecommunication facilities (WTFs) at the Dr. Bill Robertson Center within Everglades National Park (ENP). The NPS is required by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to consider all applications for installation of cellular equipment on NPS lands. The proposed issuance of a right-of-way permit by the NPS to Verizon Wireless would allow for:
(1) The replacement of an existing 250-foot, guyed radio tower (currently supporting NPS radio repeaters) with a self-supporting wireless telecommunications tower of the same height
(2) The installation of a pre-fabricated equipment shed, fenced compound, and access drive at the Dr. Bill Robertson Center within Everglades National Park (ENP), in Homestead, Miami-Dade County, Florida
(3) Removal of existing tower including associated infrastructure and facilities, and site clearing and improvement of the previously disturbed site to grade
A structural analysis of the existing tower, which was constructed in 1981 and supports NPS communications equipment, determined it did not meet Florida Building Code standards. The tower has been determined to be unsafe and not repairable. The new tower would support NPS and U.S. Geological Survey communication needs, Verizon Wireless cellular equipment, and the potential co-location of Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue, Florida Power & Light, and up to three other carriers. The proposed facilities would provide wireless communication along a portion of the Main Park Road (State Road 9336) from the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center to near the West Lake visitor use area which currently lacks or has poor, inconsistent coverage in limited areas.
NEPA Compliance: The NEPA path when this project began was an Environmental Assessment (EA). Based on results of internal and external scoping, the analysis of impact topics and the associated potential impacts, and the guidance in the recently revised Director's Order-12 in late 2015, it was determined that completing the NEPA compliance as a documented CatEx rather than as an EA was the appropriate NEPA path. This determination was made in consultation with SERO Environmental Coordinator.
Documents related to this project and its implementation, including public and agency scoping input, construction drawings, photographic simulations, mitigation measures, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) lighting requirements (Advisory Circular 70/7460-1K), and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Clearance to Proceed with Construction of Communication Towers letter, and the Floodplain Statement of Findings can be viewed in the "Document List", found in the left margin of this page.
Advancing the project towards implementation first requires an approved Right-of-Way (ROW) Permit between the National Park Service and Verizon Wireless. The ROW Permit process is underway.
Chief of Facilities Management
Deputy Superintendent Justin Unger approved a documented Categorical Exclusion (CatEx) for the Everglades National Park "Replacement of a Communications Tower (at Dr. Bill Robertson Center)" project on January 19, 2016. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance is now complete. Deputy Superintendent Unger also approved a determination of "No Adverse Effect" for this project on January 19, 2016. Section 106 compliance with the National Historical Preservation Act is now complete.