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BPA decides to move forward with new communications tower on Marys Peak

Marys Peak
US Forest Service
Marys Peak is known for its wildflowers.

The Bonneville Power Administration says it’s moving forward with plans to build a new 60-foot communications tower on the top of Marys Peak near Corvallis.

The structure would be twice as tall as the current BPA tower, which helps the agency communicate with its field staff. Some of the existing equipment dates to the early 1960’s and the BPA says it needs an upgrade.

Marys Peak communications towers
Under the proposal, the current BPA structure in the foreground would be removed. A new 60-foot structure would be built adjacent to the 40-foot structure in the background.

The agency rejected a proposal to locate the tower at a different site about 500 feet down the slope of the mountain, saying the existing site would be the most efficient and most reliable. The structure would be built next to an existing 40-foot tower that’s operated by the US Forest Service. A separate 20-foot structure on the site holds communications equipment that serves the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Oregon State Police.

Local conservation groups say the new BPA tower would be an eyesore and that construction of it could damage the unique ecosystem that’s found at the peak, which is the highest point in Oregon’s Coast Range.

The BPA’s decision isn’t final yet. Opponents have 45 days to file a formal objection.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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