Last Spring, the US Forest Service (USFS) issued a scoping notice soliciting public comment on the installation of an underground fiber optic line with accompanying telecommunications towers up Little Cottonwood Canyon (similar to what is being installed up Big Cottonwood Canyon). Sixteen of these post will now infiltrate both Little and Big Cottonwood Canyon Scenic Byways.
In his decision memo, Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest Supervisor states that while yes, the project lies within the project area “classified under the Forest Service landscape management inventory system as High scenic integrity,” but that this project is OK because of the existence of power and telephone poles in the vicinity. The USFS feels that all issues brought up inclusive of Avalanches, Scenic and Visual Qualities, coordination with Salt Lake County ordinances, and Salt Lake City Watershed can all be mitigated, and as such authorized the project by using a Categorical Exclusion (CE). Almost more annoying than the installation of these poles is the agencies continued abuse of the CE, a tool we feel should be used for building and painting picnic benches not fast forwarding large scale projects like this.
You can read the entire Decision Memo (.pdf) here – LCC DAS Fiber Optic DM 07022013