Repeater sites are often considered critical communication infrastructure. But what if access to that site happens to cross over private land and the relationship goes south? That’s exactly what’s happening right now near Salida, Colorado.
Methodist Mountain is located one hundred miles southwest of Colorado Springs and houses radio gear for over twenty different entities, including: AT&T, Verizon, U.S. Forest Service, Western Area Power Administration, State of Colorado and local public safety to just name a few. It’s a well known critical repeater site in southern Colorado — including being home to ham radio gear for the Colorado SkyHubLink repeater system.
For decades, a handshake agreement was in place to allow radio engineers to use an access road that ran partially across private land when they needed to maintain equipment. But that has all changed.
"On the terrifying night in 2019 when the Decker Fire topped the mountain, causing the evacuation of all Salida homes south of U.S. 50, the cabin on the claim was lost. After the Decker Fire, things got downright nasty. There is apparently an undertone of blame that the county and the USFS couldn’t save the cabin the night the fire came over the mountain (it was above the evacuation area.). In the aftermath, Bay plunked a locked gate down on the forest service road (on USFS land, not on the family’s claim) and has refused entry to all." - Arkansas Valley Voice, July 2021
What do you think should be done in this instance? In my opinion, having easy access to critical infrastructure should be of the utmost importance for public safety and national security. It’s just the right thing to do in the public interest.