Below is a reply from US Fish and Wildlife service regarding Mount
Scott. This reply came as a result of an inquiry regarding amateur
radio activity in the Refuge. Again, my conclusion is that one does
not need a permit when one is operating mobile. I hope this brings
clearer understanding to the issue.
This is in response to your request for clarification of the rules
regarding special use permit requirements for amateur radio operations
on the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge (Refuge). The confusion about
the permit requirements stems from recent changes that have not yet been
formalized or documented on our website.
Previously, refuge special use permits were required for all amateur
radio use. We recently eliminated the permit requirements for small
scale and short term amateur radio use that involves portable or mobile
radio equipment contained in a single vehicle, and antennas attached to
vehicles. We continue to require refuge permits for larger-scale radio
operations that involve antennas and/or equipment set up outside
vehicles, and for group events involving multiple operations.
Following is a brief background and rationale for the changes in permit
In September 2013, we completed a Comprehensive Conservation
Plan/Environmental Assessment for this Refuge, which addressed public
use management. It included the compatibility determinations that are
required for all public uses to be allowed on the Refuge, including
amateur radio operations. Our planning exercise concluded that amateur
radio activities have minimal risk of impacts to Refuge resources and
found the use to be compatible with the Refuge purposes if managed
under the terms of special use permits that insure it does not
interfere with other priority public uses of the National Wildlife
Refuge System. That general permit requirement is identified on our
Mt. Scott is a popular Refuge location for Ham radio operators and
other visitors to gather. Its high elevation offers good radio
coverage for Ham radio operators. Other visitors enjoy the scenic
views, and observe and photograph wildlife. Ham radio activities that
require large antennas, large amounts of radio equipment, noise and/or
group events may compromise recreational opportunities for these
visitors. We therefore need to manage and minimize the impacts of Ham
radio activities on other users.
This past April, questions arose regarding varying permit requirements
for Ham radio operators versus walkie talkie or CB radio users. After
careful consideration, we determined that it was not necessary to
require Refuge permits for small-scale and short term amateur radio use
by individuals in their vehicle, if it does not involve setup of radio
antennas and/or other equipment outside the vehicle, or group events.
We have begun the process of changing our website information to
reflect the modified requirements for amateur radio operations. That
information should be in place and available to the public by August 1,
I hope this clarifies our permit requirements and the reason for the
questions. If you have any questions, feel free to let me know.
Lloyd Colston, KC5FM, Section Manager
Altus, OK 73521-4903