Cellular communication towers being sited near Hyannis and Whitman pose a potential threat to migratory birds, and will also change the local character of the sand hills.
Three towers more than 300 feet in height, with associated guy wires are either approved or being considered by the Federal Aviation Administration. Each one is located in association with wetland habitats near the two communities.
Two towers locations are east of Hyannis and south of Avocet WMA:
- * one for Alltel southwest of the intersection of highways 2 and 61, with a height of 308 feet above ground level, and placed upon a hilltop.
- * another for Verizon sited at the Pelican Beach Club golf course, and with a height above the ground of 358 feet; a public notice on this tower was recently issued in the Grant County News.
Communication tower guylines are a known hazard to flying birds, according to many studies.
Avocet WMA is a known haven for birds, with nearly seventy different species of birds known to occur. Especially prominent are the Trumpeter Swans, which typically nest each summer season, and when more than half-a-dozen can occur. These birds, the largest of the North American waterfowl, typically fly just above the hills in a steady ponderous flight, and could readily hit any guylines located just south of the wetland. Young, inexperienced juveniles would be especially in danger. Other species present could also strike the lines.
Having two towers placed south of the wildlife area are particularly hazardous due to their proximity and the limitations in flight airspace that will occur.
Near Whitman, a tower is proposed to the north and slightly west of Doc Lake. It would apparently also be a Verizon tower, and also have a height above the ground of a hilltop of 358 feet.
More than seventy species of birds have been recorded to occur at this wetland and lake, including more than a dozen on occasion.
In addition to potential threats to migratory birds, the towers will mar the landscape view. They are all along the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway and readily visible from Highway 2. The two towers east of Hyannis are also within the northern extent of the Sandhills National Natural Landmark, thus adding further industrial development to this unique tract.
The blinking white lights of these towers will be incessant in the night skies.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is evaluating the towers to determine if there are any concerns that the agency needs to address. Migratory birds are also protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.