Forest Service Radio Systems

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silverspy

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Hello everyone,
I noticed that at least three forests (Inyo, Modoc and Lassen) have moved to 406 Mhz links for their Admin Nets, but not Forest Nets. There are still Forests (like the Tahoe) that are using 415 Mhz links for their Forest and Admin Nets. It used to be that all output traffic was carried on 415 Mhz links and input on 411 Mhz, but it seems as if the trend is to shift the output down to 406 Mhz, although this is not the universal rule in all of Region 5. Does anyone have any thoughts or insight on this?
Thanks.
 

WayneH

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I seem to recall reading that NTIA or someone else making assignments is trying to keep all output and link traffic to the lower band with inputs in the upper band (415+). This depends on how the spectrum is assigned in the area.
 

KMA367

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I seem to recall reading that NTIA or someone else making assignments is trying to keep all output and link traffic to the lower band with inputs in the upper band (415+). This depends on how the spectrum is assigned in the area.
Not sure if this is what you're referring to, but the NTIA Red Book frequency allotments section has a "Channeling Plan for Assignments in the Band 406.1-420 MHz" starting on p 19 at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/osmhome/redbook/4d.pdf with a frequency chart starting on p 21. Other bands and interesting stuff there, too; it's dated January 2008.

The entire Red Book, 24 MB worth, is at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/osmhome/redbook/Manual.pdf
 

SCPD

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I noticed sometime during this winter that the down link frequency for the Inyo's remote base on Silver Peak no longer had any traffic on it. This happened sometime this winter. When narrowbanding was implemented they changed the up link from being 4 MHZ below to 9 MHz below. I've been so busy working on my 31 year old Toyota Land Cruiser that I haven't had time to check if they reversed the up link and down link frequencies. Since I use the Land Cruiser to travel to some neat listening locations and it is in my garage in a somewhat stripped down condition I haven't checked out why I can't hear the down link from Silver Peak right now.

I"m going to have to read some of the links posted above and see if anything is revealed in there. I though at first that they may have reversed the function so that the down link is the lower of the two, but the Air Guard remote base on Silver is booming out on its down link. There is a cross band setup on it so that military aircraft can call on their guard and it comes out on the federal natural resource guard of 168.625. I had been noticing some noise the last two years that sounded like digital traffic. I was using a PRO-96 to listen to it so the lack of digital demodulation was in the receiver for the military's frequency. That does not appear to be the case this year so this remote base has been worked on sometime since last fall. If the down link for this repeater has not been reversed it would not make sense that they did so on the Forest Net remote down link. They must have just changed frequencies.

There was a BLM down link on Silver as well and for some reason, I was hearing traffic from some of the repeaters on the backcountry net for Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks. That traffic has disappeared as well. This is not something you would notice right away in the winter as all the backcountry ranger stations are shut down in the winter. Now that the backcountry is opening up I've noticed that there is no traffic coming over this down link. Some changes have been made and I can't tell what is going on yet. I've got to get finished with my vehicle maintenance so I can spend some time on the radio hobby!

I've never heard anything on the Inyo's Admin link frequencies because I've never heard anyone using the Admin net on the Inyo. I've been told that it doesn't work at dispatch yet and therefore no one uses it. I know I would be using it right now as a means of communicating through an alternate net between field units. There is nothing wrong with a couple of stand alone repeaters for doing that. Since no one is doing that I wonder if the Admin net frequencies are even programmed into the field radios. I know the Glass Mountain and Mammoth Mountain Admin repeaters work, but I don't know how many Admin net repeaters were planned. I assume they planned to have an Admin repeater at every location that Forest net repeaters exist. The Forest Service radio tech, who had been on the Inyo since 1972 retired about 3 years ago, about the same time the stupid edict came down that the Forest Service would outsource their radio tech and auto shop work. The results on these two efforts have been a disaster that the present presidential administration has ignored, since they came up with the edict in the first place.

I heard some mobile traffic on the R5 work channel (164.150) last week that sounded like two Forest Service radio techs talking about repeater sites on the Inyo. They were from some other Forests, and I did not copy which ones. Some of the radio techs survived the outsourcing but were told not to pick up tools as they would now be "radio system contract administrators". They were probably sneaking onto the Inyo to do some real work due to the performance of the contractor here. One of them mentioned where some batteries were going to end up. Sounds like some real radio techs were going to do some real work. The contractor for the Inyo has performed very poorly and the stage of rebuilding the Inyo's radio system that existed at the time the Forest Service radio tech had left it when he retired, is the state the system has been at for over three years now.

I've also spoken to a friend of mine from the Angeles National Forest at some length about the performance of the radio system and fleet maintenance contractors they have had on the Angeles. The situation is grim and the contractors have been paid for services not rendered or of such poor quality that the Forest Service would be better served if they didn't have contractors for these two services at all. An Angeles engine was in for its annual maintenance a couple of years back, a procedure where everything everything is inspected just short of removing the head off the engine. On that engine's first response a front wheel came off during a Code 3 response.

I know this is off the subject, but the situation for radio maintenance is somewhat similar as far as contractor performance and it is difficult to tell what is going on when questions like the one you posed here are presented. The outsourcing study did not come out in favor of contracting out fleet maintenance and radio system construction and maintenance on the first two versions the administration sent out. That was not the answer they wanted so the third round was rigged so that the Forest Service would have to contract these services out. The result can be likened to a hand out program with no accountability. The contract administrator's hands are pretty much tied behind their backs by the entire "outsourcing" program and the way the administration deemed it would be administered.

The entire situation is really a shame as 98% of the Forest Service radio techs I heard of and worked with in my 26 years with the Forest Service were dedicated people who could get things accomplished on a shoestring budget well enough that it almost seemed like they could pull rabbits out of hats. The Inyo's radio tech built a system of permanent and portable "extenders" for blind spots on the Forest that eliminated almost all of them. He did this using surplus gear that had almost no value and by watching for military surplus that could be used that was being disposed of at Alameda. He essentially built the system for nothing except for a few antenna fittings, solder, and his own time. Forest Service radio techs have been doing this sort of thing since the 1930's and the reward they received for this is to see their jobs outsourced to contractors who didn't know the job in the first place and have failed to perform.

This administration has done damage like this all over the civilian sector of the federal government and agencies can't get their jobs done. The FEMA situation during Katrina is the best example of this. There were reports coming out of FEMA early on in 2001 talking about the damage that was being done. Talented people were leaving within a few months of the inauguration. The result during Katrina was of no surprise to those of us who were either currently working in disaster response work, or like myself, retired from it. I only mention this because the next president, no matter who he is, is going to have his work cut out for him in beginning to fix the damage. Unfortunately, the damage done in 8 years will take in the decades of time to repair.

OK, enough with the rant. For me this is all strongly connected to the question you asked.
 

silverspy

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Thanks for the info. On Saturday, I definitely heard Admin Net traffic being repeated from Silver Peak on 406.275. And as far as I know, the Admin Net is only installed on: Mammoth, Glass, Silver, Coyote and Cerro Gordo. Also, you might already know, but the new BLM frequency for the Eastern Sierra is 166.875. I will listen today and see if the LTBMU is using those activity level reports that you described. Take care.
William Blume, aka Silverspy
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WayneH

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Not sure if this is what you're referring to, but the NTIA Red Book frequency allotments section has a "Channeling Plan for Assignments in the Band 406.1-420 MHz" starting on p 19 at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/osmhome/redbook/4d.pdf with a frequency chart starting on p 21. Other bands and interesting stuff there, too; it's dated January 2008.
That's it, thanks.

I recommend giving it a run through also, if you're a Federal radio buff.
 

DPD1

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The entire situation is really a shame as 98% of the Forest Service radio techs I heard of and worked with in my 26 years with the Forest Service were dedicated people who could get things accomplished on a shoestring budget well enough that it almost seemed like they could pull rabbits out of hats. The Inyo's radio tech built a system of permanent and portable "extenders" for blind spots on the Forest that eliminated almost all of them. He did this using surplus gear that had almost no value and by watching for military surplus that could be used that was being disposed of at Alameda. He essentially built the system for nothing except for a few antenna fittings, solder, and his own time. Forest Service radio techs have been doing this sort of thing since the 1930's and the reward they received for this is to see their jobs outsourced to contractors who didn't know the job in the first place and have failed to perform.

This administration has done damage like this all over the civilian sector of the federal government and agencies can't get their jobs done. The FEMA situation during Katrina is the best example of this. There were reports coming out of FEMA early on in 2001 talking about the damage that was being done. Talented people were leaving within a few months of the inauguration. The result during Katrina was of no surprise to those of us who were either currently working in disaster response work, or like myself, retired from it. I only mention this because the next president, no matter who he is, is going to have his work cut out for him in beginning to fix the damage. Unfortunately, the damage done in 8 years will take in the decades of time to repair.
Getting off the thread here, but I just happen to have gone up to ANF yesterday... I have to say, each time I go up there now it just gets more and more sad. Having spent a lot of time up there enjoying the forest when I was younger back in the 80's... What a change it has taken for the worse. I stopped at a pull-off that I was just at not two weeks ago, and now it's plastered with spray paint and has garbage all over. I'm sure it's not the fault of the actual people with the forest, but now days when you go up there, you just get the feeling that it's been abandoned... Like they've just given up. You could probably stand next to the hwy. for hours and not see a single forest person or CHP drive by. The kids, illegal dumpers and other lowlifes obviously sense this too, because they just have their way with the place now. Sad to say, but I think I would actually be a little nervous driving through there at night now.

Not to hijack the thread, but on a kind of related subject... Maybe you Smoke or anybody might know what freq is used by the guys that patrol Mulholland in the Hollywood and L.A. western hills? I believe it's Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, or whatever they call it these days. I've tried a couple freqs over the years, but never heard anything.

Dave
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BirkenVogt

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Are all the forests that moved within range of Beale AFB? They have been flexing their muscle in the mid 400 range because it interferes with their radar so I think that maybe they have been moving lower in freq because of that.

Birken
 

SCPD

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Dave, I don't think they have given up, but when you are cut back to the levels they are at now, it is difficult to make a difference. The cut in recreation employees on the Inyo National Forest is nearly 2/3. If the Angeles has been cut back to a similar number there is not much that can be done to alleviate the situation you are talking about. Yes, it is sad. When I was working for the Forest Service I fought and worked extra hard to make improvements so we could serve the public better, improve the resource, and do our jobs more efficiently. I'm now seeing a portion of that work going down the tubes because the present staff can't possibly keep up. There is only so much one person can do, no matter how dedicated they are. If you tried to play a football game where the opposing team could always put 11 players on the field and you could only field 4-6 the outcome is obvious. That is what many Forest Service people face today.

In Death Valley National Park, the largest in the lower 48 states, at 3.2 million acres, the protection ranger force was at 12, not counting the Chief Ranger, some years back. Do the math when you consider these rangers work 5 days per week, can be tied up in court, can be transporting prisoners to Independence, take vacations, get sick, are in mandatory training for EMS and law enforcement, etc. I think they might be at lower numbers at this point.

The whole situation has gotten bad enough that people are not applying for the jobs like they used to. The Park Service has had to advertise for some of its Ranger positions on the street. For 30 years (about 1971 to 2001) the Park Service never advertised vacancies outside the agency. As a federal employee of the U.S. Forest Service I could not apply for Park Service jobs. New hires were usually long time seasonals and/or volunteers and the competition was rough.

To answer your radio question is not that simple. The Santa Monica Mountains have a patchwork of jurisdictions. First there is the Santa Monica National Recreation area, then there are California State Parks, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state entity), and finally the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority. The last is a joint powers agreement among several local park agencies. I don't recall if the state conservancy is a partner in this or not. I could look it up on the Internet but it is late.

It has been my impression that the conservancy or the Mountains Rec and Conservation Authority use the Fish and Game frequency for that area and thus are dispatched by Surcomm. Since I rarely get down that way anymore, I can't verify this. The frequencies for the National Recreation Area and State Parks are in the database, but I think you are inquiring about the state conservancy and/or the joint powers authority. I think the answer is the same, the DFG frequency, in either case.

I recall the Rec and Conservation Authority having an officer involved shooting there in the last year or two that was somewhat controversial. I don't recall the outcome.
 

SCPD

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Thanks for the info. On Saturday, I definitely heard Admin Net traffic being repeated from Silver Peak on 406.275. And as far as I know, the Admin Net is only installed on: Mammoth, Glass, Silver, Coyote and Cerro Gordo. Also, you might already know, but the new BLM frequency for the Eastern Sierra is 166.875. I will listen today and see if the LTBMU is using those activity level reports that you described. Take care.
William Blume, aka Silverspy
KE6DZA
Was the downlink on 406.275? If that is the case they might have reversed the down and up links. I show the down link as 415.275 for the Admin net and 415.575 for the Forest Net. I'm going to have to program the lower frequency of the pairs to see if I start hearing them again. This is interesting because the down link for the Air Guard remote base on Silver is still on 415.550. As I mentioned before, a digital capable transceiver has been added to the military side of the cross band repeater for this remote base. I no longer hear periodic undemodulated digital hash on this down link.

There are additional frequencies in use for the Forest net that don't show up in the field. That is the entire Forest only uses one frequency pair for all the repeaters. Using different UHF link frequencies they can divide the Forest up north and south and have separate dispatchers working a console for each of them. They put one remote base at the Lone Pine Ranger Station and the other at the Mammoth Airport and in that way they can restrict traffic to the consoles based on a north/south division. After this arrangement was set up following narrow banding the down link of 415.575 only controlled Mazourka and Silver. But this is the frequency I'm not copying traffic on now. When I was copying traffic on it the down link no longer repeated the up link, so I could only hear one side of the conversation due to my location. Back when there was one remote and no north and south nets and the up link was repeated on the down link, I could hear the entire Forest from Mammoth Lakes.
 

IanS

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"The last is a joint powers agreement among several local park agencies. I don't recall if the state conservancy is a partner in this or not. I could look it up on the Internet but it is late"

Yea, the Conservancy is the largest partner of the JPA and works closely with the MRCA. The MRCA manages all the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy lands as well others on contract such as the Puente Hills Habitat Authority in Whittier/Hacienda Heights and the California Coastal Commission.

Regarding radios, Smokey you are correct, the MRCA shares the F&G frequencies. You can distinguish them by their call signs, they start with 56 so 564y is a MRCA LEO. 5220 is F&G warden.
 

silverspy

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Hello ExSmokey,
Yes, I'm 100% sure that the Admin Net downlink from Silver Peak was on 406.275. Like you, I also noticed that the link transmissions on 415.575 and 415.275 ceased sometime during the winter. After not hearing 415 MHz anymore in several forests, I began to search in the 406 MHz range and discovered that several forests are now using 406 MHz for downlinks (Inyo, Modoc and Lassen that I know of so far). I also know that the Tahoe is still using 415 MHz for their downlinks from Banner Mtn to Grass Valley. Now I am really curious about the Inyo, and what freq they are now using for the Forest Net downlink. I was at the Inyo Dispatch center during the winter and looked at their consoles. They do have the north/south split programmed into the consoles, but the dispatcher said that it is not set up yet. To me, it would have mademoresenseaftergained a frequency, to use one frequency for the North and the other frequency for the South. This would obviously reduce traffic on both frequencies and provide true isolation. I know a lot of forests are moving to Voice over I/P protocol for linking repeaters back to Dispatch and some are using microwave. I am having a hard time figuring out their logic, but it does not seem that their is a standard for all forests, it just seems as if each individual forest does what it wants. I will be flying to LA tomorrow and then driving back to Reno VIA 395, so I will see what additional clues that I can gather.
 

IanS

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Smokey, the shooting involved a State Park Ranger although MRCA responded ( news clip showed MRCA vehicles and Rangers so lots of folks got a little confused who was actually in the shooting).

It ended up not being so controversial. After all the media hype of "he was a good guy" and "why do Rangers need guns" it came out that the Ranger was responding to a shots fired call, he pulls up, sees the gang members, (yes that was verified) Ranger pulls in, orders the motor stopped and hands up, car goes in gear, hits the Ranger, Ranger fires. Other bangers get out and run.

After the info came out about his prior ADW on a Peace Officer, and his gang membership and his recent release from prision, the local news dropped the story.
 

DPD1

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Thanks Smokey... Yeah, like I said, I know it isn't the park workers fault. I remember guys up there telling me it was bad 10 years ago, so I'm sure it hasn't gotten better.

Well, once I knew to look for MRCA, I found two F&G freqs here, one of which says L.A. area 151.43. But also somewhere else I found they claim these are used:
Ramirez Cyn. HQ 155.16
Sunset Blvd. Facility 154.6
? 151.475
? 151.05
? 453.4250

So far I've heard a DS on 155.16 and I think a transmitter ID on one of the others. I haven't been up there in a while, but I recall they ran some sort of small office out of the Tree People park up on Coldwater in the Hollywood Hills. In fact, I don't know if it's still there, but I recall there was a comm tower there that seemed to be for them, which I always wondered about.

Dave
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IanS

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DPD1,

The antenna you remember is not used by MRCA. The park down in Franklin Cyn. is NPS but run by MRCA. The treepeople are not affiliated with them. The F&G repeaters used most around there by the Rangers are Oat, and Blackjack.
 

DPD1

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DPD1,

The antenna you remember is not used by MRCA. The park down in Franklin Cyn. is NPS but run by MRCA. The treepeople are not affiliated with them. The F&G repeaters used most around there by the Rangers are Oat, and Blackjack.
OK, thanks... I was actually just looking at that on live maps. I noticed the tower is still there, but looks like they tore the buildings down. I use to see the rangers go in there a lot and I guess I just assumed the tower might be for them and the office that use to be there.

They definitely keep a low profile. I haven't found any info on where the ranger offices are based or anything. I was chased off Mulholland numerous times by them when I was younger, so I was always curious. :)

Dave
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gmclam

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Who is where?

I'm 100% sure that the Admin Net downlink from Silver Peak was on 406.275. Like you, I also noticed that the link transmissions on 415.575 and 415.275 ceased sometime during the winter. After not hearing 415 MHz anymore in several forests, I began to search in the 406 MHz range and discovered that several forests are now using 406 MHz for downlinks (Inyo, Modoc and Lassen that I know of so far). I also know that the Tahoe is still using 415 MHz for their downlinks from Banner Mtn to Grass Valley.
I am still hearing Tahoe on 415 MHz as well. I haven't been paying close attention to the other 415 MHz channels I've programmed, but I think they are quiet.

Could someone please clarify which forests are on which 406.xxx frequencies?

Thanks.

EDIT: Just confirmed TAHOE NF on 415.450 CT 173.8
 
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1979lee

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I am still hearing Tahoe on 415 MHz as well. I haven't been paying close attention to the other 415 MHz channels I've programmed, but I think they are quiet.

Could someone please clarify which forests are on which 406.xxx frequencies?

Thanks.


here in kern county, the last time i tuned into those channels, (415) stuff, there was either no activity or it sounded like it was trunked or maybe p25?

415.375 415.475 419.675 417.300 415.225 415.575 , i dont recall wich one of these freqs i heard the trunking on, its one of these.

here in kern (bakersfield area) these freqs have had some bleed over from the kern county sherffs freqs, atleast on my psr400/scantenna setup
 

DPD1

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In my continued search for the elusive comms used by the rangers that patrol Mulholland Dr./Hwy. for the Santa Monica Mountains groups, I was running 172.525 for the National Park Service - Santa Monica Mountains National Rec Area. I have been hearing what sounds like digital transmissions on the dispatcher broadcasts there. The mobile units are normal. This will probably end up being an ignorant question, but what's happening there?

As an example... I just heard L.A. 74 calling Angeles. Angeles' response sounded digital. 172.5 had been posted as a possible repeater output for SMMNR, but I did not hear anything on that during the transmissions.

As far as the rangers that work under Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, I still don't think I've found those. There does seem to be a little traffic on the F&G 151.43, but not much. Since the rangers I am thinking of constantly patrol Mulholland, I would think they'd be talking quite a bit. Unless I'm totally behind the times and another agency handles that now. I guess I'll have to go up there and have them give me a ticket to find out.

Dave
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IanS

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DPD1,

The NPS call signs are "LE" not LA and as noted above, MRCA shares F&G.
 
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