CenturyLink plans to install new cable west of Whitefish

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CenturyLink has proposed an amendment to the company’s existing special-use permit that would allow for the installation of thousands of feet of buried fiber optic telecommunication line west of Whitefish.

According to Tami Mackenzie with the U.S. Forest Service environmental planning team at Tally Lake, CenturyLink’s existing permit allows the company to maintain or update existing lines. The amendment would allow the company to install an entirely new cable.

Deemed the Bootjack CenturyLink Project, the undertaking would involve “boring, trenching, and plowing” a 36-inch deep and 6-to-8 inch wide trench to accommodate the cable. According to a letter from Bill Mulholland, the Tally Lake District Ranger in charge of the project, approximately 5,000 feet of cable would be buried on Forest Service land and approximately 2,000 feet would cross private land through a Forest Service easement.

The trench itself would be located between the road’s edge and the ditch in an “already disturbed area,” according to Mulholland. Examples of an already disturbed area include trails, roads or areas where vegetation has already been removed for some purpose.

The project site is located off U.S. 93. The estimated 7,000 feet of telecommunication line — used to transmit phone signals, internet connection and cable television signals — would run underground, adjacent to Bootjack Lake Road.

The project would run from October through November of this year.

In order to reduce the chance of transferring non-native invasive plant species, washing equipment prior to work and seeding disturbed ground after implantation would be required. CenturyLink would also be required to return the road to standards described in their personal use permits.

According to Mackenzie, the project will be scoped for a week and based on public comment, a decision memo will be drafted for final review by Mulholland.

The public has until Sept. 20 to submit comments on the project. Comments can be submitted online to fs-comments-nothern-flathead-tally-lake@usda.gov or to the Tally Lake Ranger District at 650 Wolfpack Way in Kalispell.

Kianna Gardner may be reached at 758-4439 or kgardner@dailyinterlake.com

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