Oklahoma Ecological Services Field Office
Southwest Region

Self-Certification Procedure for Communication Tower Projects in Oklahoma

To streamline the review process for communications tower projects, we have developed no effect criteria, avoidance and minimization measures, and procedures for project review. The criteria, measures, and procedures take into consideration available information on migratory birds, federally-listed threatened and endangered species, and bald eagles within Oklahoma, in accordance with provisions of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (16 U.S.C. 703-712, 40 Stat. 755), as amended (MBTA); Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531-1544, 87 Stat. 884), as amended (ESA); and Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 668-668c, 54 Stat. 250), as amended (Eagle Act). This process also provides useful information for your project review under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (P.L. 91-190, 42 U.S.C. 4321-4347, 83 Stat. 852), as amended.

Step 1. Federally listed threatened and endangered species and bald eagles. The following types of proposed actions will have no effect on federally-listed threatened and endangered species and are not likely to negatively impact species that are candidates for federal listing. The following actions also are unlikely to disturb bald eagles:

  • Co-location of new equipment or antennae or any infrastructure improvements at an existing structure (e.g., tower, water tank, building, etc.) where all ground disturbance occurs within cleared or regularly mowed areas.
  • Routine maintenance or repair of existing towers or their sites.
  • Replacement of an existing communication tower (and/or equipment) for which a self-certification letter previously has been mailed to the Service, provided such activities would not increase the existing tower mass and height, require the addition of guy wires, or increase the size or location of the existing pad site or equipment shelter.
  • Construction of self-supported (i.e., no guy wires), unlighted communication towers less than 200 feet in height that:
    • are not within the range of the lesser prairie chicken in Oklahoma (as determined in IPaC), and,
    • are not within the range of the American burying beetle (as determined in IPAC) or are within the range, but the entire action area is considered to be unsuitable habitat for the beetle. For more information regarding unsuitable habitat, refer to our American burying beetle webpage.
  • Transfer of ownership of existing towers.

Step 2. Migratory birds.To minimize adverse impacts to migratory birds, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) strongly encourages co-locating with other equipment and/or lowering tower height to the extent practicable, minimizing lighting, locating the tower in urbanized or developed areas or other areas that do not provide potential habitat for migratory birds, and incorporating as many recommendations as possible from the Service Guidance on the Siting, Construction, Operation and Decommissioning of Communication Towers.

Step 3. For projects that meet the criteria in Step 1 and implement all applicable recommendations in Step 2, no further coordination with the Service is needed. Complete the self-certification letter, retain a copy in your project files, and email a copy to OKProjectReview@fws.gov. Please note that any single email, including attachments, must be smaller than 25 MB. If a single email would be larger than 25 MB, please spread out multiple attachments among several emails (use the same subject name and project reference in all emails related to an individual project); otherwise mail a hard copy or DVD to our office. All project reviews will receive a return receipt to inform you that your project has been successfully submitted.

For all other projects continue to Step 4.

Step 4.If the project does not meet the criteria in Steps 1 and 2, follow the USFWS Oklahoma Online Project Review Process for other projects.

NOTE: Items that are in blue bolded text are links to additional information or to additional steps in the process. We recommend that you read the entire step prior to making a selection or following the links.

Project Reviews

Endangered Species
•Species in Oklahoma (PDF)
•What species occur in my project area?
• Species of Concern (PDF)
• Species Fact Sheets

Critical Habitat
• What is it? (PDF)
• Critical Habitat Mapper

General Info:
• Plants and the ESA (PDF)
• Bald Eagle Information
• Wind Energy

Communication Towers
• Service Guidance on the Siting, Construction, Operation and Decommissioning of Communication Towers

• Approved Surveyors
• How to be a Surveyor (PDF)
How long is an animal
..survey valid?
• How long is a plant
..survey valid?

Additional Documents
• BEST Management Practices, Species Watershed Maps, Endangered Species Act, Regulations, etc.

Last updated: August 19, 2015
All images by FWS unless otherwise noted.