Another south Brewster tower meets opposition

TERLINGUA – Opposition has arisen to a second communications tower proposed for the Terlingua area, and like a proposal a year ago, the main opposition is to its height.

On January 10, Bridger Tower published a public notice in The Big Bend Sentinel that it proposed the construction of a guyed telecommunications tower at a leased area and provided coordinates of 29° 19’ 56.2” N, 103° 40’ 01.2” W.

Amber Harrison, who led the opposition to the height of the tower last year, said that area is near the site of the annual Terlingua CASI Chili Cook-Off.

Andrew Smith of RESCOM Environmental Petoskey, Michigan, was the only contact provided in the notice.

He told the Sentinel that the only thing he was told was that it would be 400 feet tall and built at the “chili cookoff site, whatever that means.”

He said his role was to search for historical or architectural problems with the proposed site.

Harrison said of the 260-foot tower that was proposed last year and because it was more than 200 feet above the ground, it had to have red lights installed.

The Federal Aviation Administration requires lighting of structures more than 200 feet tall to warn low-flying aircraft crews of the potential conflict.

Harrison said the earlier proposal was later reduced to less than 200 feet because of the opposition.

She said the lighting was a problem because the area subscribes to Dark Skies standards to protect the night skies for scientists at McDonald Observatory.

It is more than 120 miles north of Terlingua but McDonald officials proudly say the entire seven-county area around the observatory has among the darkest skies in the world for optimal study of the universe, and they need to keep it that way.

In addition, nearby Big Bend Ranch State Park has been designated an International Dark Sky Sanctuary by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), a designation given to areas that protect the environment from artificial light. And while Big Bend National Park, also nearby, doesn’t have that designation, the park works hard to maintain its pristine environment.

The notice said members of the public interested in submitting comments on the possible effects on historic properties included in, or eligible for, inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places could send their comments to Smith at P.O. Box 361, Petoskey, MI 49770 or call 260-385-6999.