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United States Forest Service (CA)


U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region (R5) Radio Systems Information

The Pacific Southwest Region covers most of California with the following exceptions: the California portions of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, on the Carson and Bridgeport Ranger Districts in Mono, Alpine, Eldorado and Nevada Counties in the Intermountain Region (R4 and adjacent to the Inyo, Eldorado, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, and Tahoe National Forests at the eastern boundary of California; the California portions of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest on the Siskiyou Mountains and Wild Rivers Ranger Districts in Siskiyou County in the Pacific Northwest Region (R6) and adjacent to the Klamath National Forest at the northern boundary of California north of Happy Camp and Seiad Valley; and the Nevada portion of the Inyo National Forest, on the Mono Lake and White Mountain Ranger Districts, which extend into Mineral and Esmeralda Counties, Nevada at the eastern boundary of California northwest of Bishop.

Approximately 50% of the U.S. Forest Service budget for fire management is spent in Region 5 and the total budget for wildland fire management by all fire agencies in California is more than the rest of the United States combined. Southern California has the most wildland-urban interface land area of any locality in the U.S. and California has more wildland-urban interface than any other state. The interrelationship and juxtaposition of direct protection areas for the federal, state, county and municipal fire agencies is exceedingly complex in California, not because of land ownership alone, but because of the presence of some of the most volatile vegetation in the world. The climate is a huge factor and the lower elevation of California is characterized as a "Mediterranean Climate," with relatively mild winters and hot, dry and long summers with heavy chaparral, which includes drought resistant, evergreen bush species that contain oil like sap that is explosive. It is prone to "area ignition," where large areas of fuel ignite like a pool of gasoline,

As a result of the heavy workload interagency cooperative fire management agreements a complex and numerous. It is routine to have multiple agencies listed on automatic dispatch plans for a jurisdiction. Forest Service engines may respond outside the boundary of a National Forest into state jurisdiction. It is the only state that has two Geographical Area Coordination Centers, of which there are a total of ten. There are more federal and state dispatch centers than the combination of two or more Geographical Area Coordination Centers.

California has the highest population for a state in the U.S., estimated to be 38 million people in 2014. More money is spent on tourism in California than any other state. Public land recreation use is very heavy, the most for any state in the western U.S. This results in the most human caused wildland fires for any state. The state has the most homes, over 3.8 million, in wildland-urban interface areas than any other state. From the standpoint of property damage the most destructive in U.S. history occurred in California in 1991, the Oakland Hills fire only burned 1,520 acres, but destroyed 3,354 single-family dwellings and 437 apartment and condominium units. There were 25 people killed and 150 injured. The economic loss has been estimated at $1.5 billion (2.5 billion in 2012 dollars). In terms of economic loss 7 of the top 10 fires in U.S. history have occurred in California. Unfortunately, 31% (330) of the wildland firefighter fatalities (1075) in modern U.S. history have occurred in California, the most of any state. The number 2 state in this category is Montana, with 44 fatalities. The dangerous conditions, volatile fuels, large wildland-urban interface and complex jurisdiction patterns results in a regional fire management program that is the largest and most complex in the U.S. Forest Service.

Fire management is not alone in the region's heavy workload., the many other resources and functions of the agency face heavy pressure as well. Recreation on National Forest lands is heavy, between 20-25% of the recreation use for the U.S. Forest Service nationwide. The region manages the most heavily used Congressionally designated wilderness in the multi-agency federal National Wilderness Preservation System. Developed recreation site use (campgrounds, picnic areas, interpretive sites, visitor centers, vista points, trailheads, etc.) is the highest for any region in the agency. The Inyo National Forest's developed site use is the highest for any National Forest, approximately twice that of the number two forest in this category. The John Muir Wilderness has the most use per acre of any wilderness area in the system, excepting wilderness areas in the eastern U.S. where the day use of small wilderness areas in areas of highly productive vegetation, making them less susceptible to damage by human use. The most difficult trail to manage in the Forest Service is the trail that accesses the top of Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 states. It is the only USFS trail that has a daily limit on the number of day hikers, a day hiking permit and a reservation system for these permits. The Inyo National Forest has one of the few roads that requires day use visitors to access an area by shuttle bus only. The Angeles National Forest, likely has the most difficult area of National Forest land to manage in the National Forest System, San Gabriel Canyon. The use it receives outranks the total recreation use of dozens of National Forests. Region 5 receives the most claims for accidents, injuries, property damage and fatalities in the agency. The other resources and functions have large workloads as well. For example, the most heavily used National Forest system road, wholly maintained by the U.S. Forest Service, is the Lake Mary Road, located on the Inyo National Forest, providing access to the Mammoth Lakes Basin.

In addition to fire management, law enforcement and recreation the following functions and resources are required to manage National Forest land; .Timber, grazing, watershed (protection and use), wildlife (includes fisheries), soils, engineering, road maintenance, trail construction/maintenance, facilities maintenance, communication and lands (purchases, exchanges, special use permit administration and minerals). These vary by National Forest due to differences in location, topography, vegetation, precipitation, proximity to urban areas, etc. Purely administrative functions such as purchasing, personnel, contract administration, etc. don't use radios and are only mentioned here.

The result of the complexity, size and pressure on all the management functions on National Forests in Region 5 have resulted in the most complex radio systems in the agency. Region 5 uses the most radio frequencies of any Forest Service region. Each National Forest has a "forest net" and an "administrative net," both utilizing repeaters. The forest net is usually the main communication channel for a National Forest, although on some forests fire and law enforcement are on forest net and all other functions use the admin net. . Some forests have a separate "fire net." Most forests have a "service net," which is used for incident command post to dispatcher communications, mostly logistical in nature. Cell phones have replaced this net where coverage is available, but service net is still used in cell phone dead zones. The service nets are also available as a command for initial attack for large incidents or for portions of National Forests during multiple fire starts on a forest. Two National Forests, the Klamath and Shasta-Trinity, have management unit or ranger district repeater nets. Some forests link repeaters and remote bases with UHF radio (406-420 MHz) only, microwave only and some use a combination of both. Region 5, like most regions, has a dedicated project net (168.6625 MHz), which is one simplex channel for the entire region. This frequency can be used for both fire and non-fire day to day uses. The region is also building a state wide Forest Service law enforcement repeater network as well, that at this time will be a single frequency pair. Some forests already have multiple repeaters on this net and more will be built to provide nearly the same coverage that the forest and admin nets provide now. The buildout of this system could take decades given the budget climate of the federal government.

The region also has three of its own unique tactical frequencies. These have been used as supplements on extended attack and large, national, incidents for over 25 years and NIFC Tacs 1-3, especially Tac 2 have been used for initial attack for as long they have existed. The federal wildland fire and land management agencies (National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) are beginning to phase out the use of the NIFC tacticals for initial attack. The BLM and U.S. Forest Service are getting frequency allocations so that each Forest Service region and each BLM State Office have a least three unique tactical frequencies separate from the 6 NIFC tacticals. The future use of the NIFC frequencies will be reserved for use on "National Fires." only. These are fires where a National Type I or Type II incident management team is in command. Less complex and smaller incidents are managed by Type III, IV, and V command organizations and use locally available communications systems. Type III teams can request use of NIFC frequencies and equipment if needed. The complexity and number of simultaneously occurring large incidents with potential to interfere with each other due to close proximity in California requires many tactical frequencies. There are 6 NIFC national tacticals available and 3 regional tacticals available for a total of 9, which is sometimes insufficient to provide each division on a fire with its own, clear tactical frequency. Region 5 has had these 3 regional tactical frequencies for more than 20 years and have used them when several large fires burn close to each other and the 6 NIFC frequencies are all being used to capacity. Their predominate use has been in these situations rather than by local units, although a few forests have been using them as additional tacticals in the last 5-10 years, however, large "national incidents" still need to use them. At some point in the future, more tactical frequencies will need to be assigned nationally or California will need additional tacticals to meet this new goal.

NIFC has a goal to provide 2 air to ground frequencies for each of the 105 interagency dispatch centers in the country and has met this goal everywhere except California.. This goal does not apply to the eastern and southern areas, where the lowest fire management workload for the federal government exists. In California each dispatch center being has not been assigned 2 air to ground frequencies,rather the state has been divided into 4 zones from north to south with each zone having 2 air to ground frequencies. These frequencies can be used by all of the federal land management agencies in these zones. All have been assigned from the list of 73 national air to ground frequencies. All other Geographical Area Coordination Centers use the 5 original air to air FM tactics, however California has assigned each National Forest, 2 unique air tactics frequencies. It is not confirmed, but it is believed that these frequencies can be used by the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as well.

Intra-crew communications in the Pacific Southwest Region take place on the region's project net or on one of the 4 frequencies on the National Intra-crew Communications Plan. The Primary, Secondary and Tertiary crew net frequencies are restricted to incident scenes and National Crew net can be used on the crews home unit. Intra-crew communications must be logistical and not tactical in nature. The 6 NIFC and 3 regional tactical frequencies may not be used for intra-crew communications.

The brand of handheld radio used by the U.S. Forest Service (and most wildland fire agencies as well) is Bendix King. These model of BK radios most commonly used have a capacity of 16 groups of 16 channels each. "Command" models with greater capacity are available as well. These radios allow the users to select a CTCSS tone independently for each channel by selecting a number on the radio's keypad. In Region 5, for the purposes of brevity and efficient use of repeater nets the name of the repeater is not voiced, rather the CTCSS tone number is announced (e.g., "Tone 9" instead of Pine Mountain). Cal Fire uses the same procedure. Other federal agencies in the state and other areas of the country use the name of the repeater in most cases, although the announcement of the tone only is beginning to catch on in other areas.

This background information should allow the reader to understand the systems of each National Forest as listed below.

Angeles National Forest (ANF - Forest #01)

Radio System

Channel Lineup

Most radios on the forest have 9 frequencies in common: ANF Channels 1 and 2 (Forest Net), ANF Channels 3 and 4 (Admin Net), two National Air to Ground frequencies and NIFC tactical channels 1 through 3. Each ranger district, and crews within each ranger district, may have different channel lineups, but they will usually have these nine in common. The variations between ranger districts and crews involve frequencies belonging to other agencies such as Los Angeles County Fire, San Bernardino County Fire, CalFIRE, and the Bureau of Land Management, as well as frequencies of adjacent National Forests. The agencies and areas that each ranger district interact with for mutual aid are different for each district.

ANF Channels 1 and 2 are called "Forest Net" and are used primarily for fire and emergency traffic. ANF Channels 3 and 4 are called "Admin Net." Channels 1 and 3 are simplex frequencies and channels 2 and 4 are repeated.

When users transmit on channels 1 and 3 using tone 8 (103.5 Hz) their transmission can be received by dispatch on the forest's 9 microwave linked remote bases. These remote bases are linked to dispatch located at Fox Field near Lancaster and the Forest Supervisor's Office in Arcadia. Most of these remote bases are co-located with repeaters and some are not. When someone communicates to dispatch on these channels it is not picked up by a repeater and receiving them requires being close enough to receive simplex traffic. On the other hand, if users transmit on channels 2 and 4 , the tone in use must match a repeater within range or their transmission will not be heard.

The 9 remote bases are located at: Fox Field (dispatch office), Arcadia (Forest Supervisor's Office), Frazier Peak, Warm Springs, Magic Mountain, Mt. Lukens, Blue Ridge, Johnstone Peak and Santiago Peak. Those remote bases that are not co-located with a repeater are: Fox Field, Arcadia, Warm Springs and Blue Ridge.

Angeles National Forest Channel Lineup
Channel Tone(s) Rx Tx Alpha Tag Description
18172.3750172.3750ANF 1 Frst DirForest Net Direct
21-14172.3750169.9500ANF 2 Frst RptForest Net Repeat
38164.9375164.9375ANF 3 Adm DirAdmin Direct
41-14164.9375170.0750ANF 4 Adm RptAdmin Repeat
5169.1125169.1125ANF 5 A/G 59Southern California Primary Air to Ground National AG 59
6168.4875168.4875ANF 6 A/G 53Southern California Secondary Air to Ground National AG 53
7168.0500168.0500ANF 7 N TAC 1NIFC TAC 1
8168.2000168.2000ANF 8 N TAC 2NIFC TAC 2
9168.6000168.6000ANF 9 N TAC 3NIFC TAC 3


The Angeles National Forest (ANF) radio system is comprised of 14 repeater sites situated on various mountain peaks in and around the forest which are linked to the dispatch center at Fox Field near Lancaster. Each repeater site functions as both a repeater and as a receiving antenna for dispatch.

Each repeater operates on the same input/output frequency pairs but uses a different CTCSS tone on the input. By selecting different tones users may activate different repeaters, choosing the one best suited to their location and communication needs. When a user activates a repeater by keying up on the appropriate input frequency and tone, their transmission is repeated only by that repeater. Other repeaters in the forest do not repeat transmissions from other repeaters. The input or repeater selection tone is not transmitted on the repeater output frequency, rather all repeaters transmit Tone 8 (103.5) on the output.


ANF Repeaters
Tone Location CTCSS Tone
1 Waterman Mountain 110.9
2 Santiago Peak 123.0
3 Mount Hawkins 131.8
4 Frost Peak 136.5
5 Not Assigned 146.2
6 Oat Mountain 156.7
7 Josephine Peak 167.9
8 Frasier Peak 103.5
9 Pine Mountain 100.0
10 Burnt Peak 107.2
11 Magic Mountain 114.8
12 Mount Lukens 127.3
13 Johnstone Peak 141.3
14 Grass Mountain 151.4

Cleveland National Forest (CNF - Forest #02)

Cleveland National Forest Channel Lineup
Channel Tone(s) Rx Tx Alpha Tag Description
11-12168.7500171.4250CNF 1 ForestForest Repeater Net (Note: Tone 8 - 103.5 Rx Side)
2All excp. 1,6,8168.1500169.7250CNF 2 AdminAdmin Repeater Net (Note: Tone 8 - 103.5 Rx Side)
32,5,10164.1250164.8250CNF 3 ServiceUSFS Southern CA Service Repeater Net (Note: Tone 8 - 103.5 Rx Side)
4168.6625168.6625CNF 4 PrjctRegion 5 Project Net (Note: R5 2014 listing did not show a channel 4, this frequency is assumed from past years)
5168.2000168.2000CNF 5 NIFC T2NIFC Tac 2
6166.5500166.5500CNF 6 R5 T4R5 Tac 4 Palomar Ranger District Initial Attack
7167.1125167.1125CNF 7 R5 T5R5 Tac 5 Trabuco Ranger District Initial Attack
8168.2375168.2375CNF 8 R5 T6R5 Tac 6 Descanso Ranger District Initial Attack
9151.1900151.1900CNF 9 CF LocCal Fire MVU Local Direct (Note: Tone 3 - 131.8 Rx Side)
10151.3550159.3000CNF F10 CF C1Cal Fire Command 1 (Note: Tone 8 - 103.5 Rx Side)
11151.2650159.3300CNF 11 CF C2Cal Fire Command 2 (Note: Tone 8 - 103.5 Rx Side)
12151.3400159.3450CNF 12 CF C3Cal Fire Command 3 (Note: Tone 8 - 103.5 Rx Side)
13151.2500151.2500CNF 13 CF T5Cal Fire Tac 5 (Note: Tone 16 - 192.8 Rx Side)
14151.4600151.4600CNF 14 CF T12Cal Fire Tac 12 (Note: Tone 16 - 192.8 Rx Side)
15151.4750151.4750CNF 15 CF T13Cal Fire Tac 13 Tone 16 Rx Side (Note: Tone 16 - 192.8 Rx Side)
16169.1125169.1125A/G 59 CA4 (P)National Air-Ground 59 CA Zone 4 Primary


CNF Repeaters
Tone Location CTCSS Tone
1 Sierra 110.9
2 Santiago Peak 123.0
3 Elsinore 131.8
4 High Point 136.5
5 Cuyumaca 146.2
6 Ortega 156.7
7 Los Pinos 167.9
8 Boucher 103.5
9 Lyons Peak 100.0
10 Portable Repeater 107.2
11 Black Mtn. 114.8
12 Sitton Peak 127.3

Eldorado National Forest (ENF - Forest #03)

The Eldorado National Forest does not use channel numbers to describe the frequencies it uses, rather it describes them by name. Channel plans vary based on the ranger district and function to which they are assigned. Recreation, fire, timber, range (grazing), wildlife, engineering and watershed are examples of functions. The names are shown below under "Description" for each channel.

Direct or simplex communications are not conducted on the forest's repeater nets such as Forest Net. Tactical frequencies are used instead. Almost all handheld radios in use by the Forest Service are the Bendix-King. These radios have 16 groups and 16 channels per group. Only one group can be used at a time. By eliminating the simplex operation of the 5 Forest Service repeater nets the forest uses, 5 channels are available for other frequencies.

Eldorado National Forest Channel Lineup
Channel Tone(s) Rx Tx Alpha Tag Description
***1-11171.5250169.9500ENF ForestForest Net
***1-11172.3250173.7625ENF AdminAdmin Net
***1-11164.1250164.8250ENF ServiceService Net
***1,2,3172.3750164.9625TMU FireLake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Fire Net (Commonly referred to as "Basin Fire")
***1,2,3171.5750165.4125TMU AdminLake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Admin Net (Commonly referred to as "Basin Admin")
***1-8151.1900159.2250AEU LocalCal Fire Amador-Eldorado Local Net Tone 5 (145.2) Rx Side
***1-16155.9025159.2275Eldr CmdEldorado County Command
***2,4153.9350158.880Amdr CmdAmador County Command (Note: Tone 2 - 123.0 Rx Side)
***168.0500168.0500NIFC T1NIFC Tac 1
***168.2000168.2000NIFC T2NIFC Tac 2
***168.6000168.6000NIFC T3NIFC Tac 3
***166.5500168.5500R5 T4R5 Tac 4
***167.1125167.1125R5 T5R5 Tac 5
***168.2375168.2375R5 T6R5 Tac 6
***168.6625168.6625R5 ProjectR5 Project Net
***151.1600151.1600CF T2Cal Fire Tac 2 (Note: Tone 16 - 192.8 Rx Side)
***151.3700151.3700CF T8Cal Fire Tac 8 (Note: Tone 16 - 192.8 Rx Side)
***151.3850151.3850CF T9Cal Fire Tac 9 (Note: Tone 16 - 192.8 Rx Side)
***151.2200151.2200CF A/GCal Fire Air to Ground
***167.5000167.5000CA 2 A/G 14 (P)National Air Ground 14 - CA Zone 2 Primary
***169.1125169.1125CA 2 A/G 59 (S)National Air Ground 59 - CA Zone 2 Secondary


ENF Repeaters
Tone Location CTCSS Tone

Inyo National Forest (INF - Forest #04)

Inyo National Forest Channel Lineup
Channel Tone(s) Rx Tx Alpha Tag Description
INF Repeaters
Tone Location CTCSS Tone

Klamath National Forest (KNF - Forest #05)

Klamath National Forest Channel Lineup
Channel Tone(s) Rx Tx Alpha Tag Description
KNF Repeaters
Tone Location CTCSS Tone

Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (TMU - Forest #19)

Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Channel Lineup
Channel Tone(s) Rx Tx Alpha Tag Description
TMU Repeaters
Tone Location CTCSS Tone

Lassen National Forest (LNF - Forest #06)

Lassen National Forest Channel Lineup
Channel Tone(s) Rx Tx Alpha Tag Description

LNF Repeaters
Tone Location CTCSS Tone

Los Padres National Forest (LPF - Forest #07)

Los Padres National Forest Channel Lineup
Channel Tone(s) Rx Tx Alpha Tag Description

LPF Repeaters
Tone Location CTCSS Tone

Mendocino National Forest (MNF - Forest #08)

Mendocino National Forest Channel Lineup
Channel Tone(s) Rx Tx Alpha Tag Description

MNF Repeaters
Tone Location CTCSS Tone

Modoc National Forest (MDF - Forest #09)

Modoc National Forest Channel Lineup
Channel Tone(s) Rx Tx Alpha Tag Description

MDF Repeaters
Tone Location CTCSS Tone

Plumas National Forest (PNF - Forest #11)

Pluman National Forest Channel Lineup
Channel Tone(s) Rx Tx Alpha Tag Description

PNF Repeaters
Tone Location CTCSS Tone

San Bernardino National Forest (BDF - Forest #12)

San Bernardino National Forest Channel Lineup
Channel Tone(s) Rx Tx Alpha Tag Description

BDF Repeaters
Tone Location CTCSS Tone

Sequoia National Forest (SQF - Forest #13)

Radio System


Sequoia National Forest Channel Lineup
Channel Tone(s) Rx Tx Alpha Tag Description
18168.6750168.6750SQF F1Emergency Net Direct
21-14167.67500170.5750SQF F2Emergency Repeater Net
38168.7750168.7750SQF F3Fire Net Direct
41-14168.7750170.6000SQF F4Fire Repeater Net
58168.1750168.1750SQF F5Admin Net Direct
6169.7250169.7250SQF F6BLM Central CA DIstrict Admin Net Direct
74,5,8169.7250165.450SQF F7BLM Central CA District Admin Repeater
8169.7750169.7750SQF F8BLM Central CA District Fire Net Direct
92-8169.7750163.0250SQF F9BLM Central CA District Fire Repeater Net


CNF Repeaters
Tone Location CTCSS Tone
1 Delilah Lookout 110.9
2 Buckrock Lookout 123.0
3 Mule Peak Lookout 131.8
4 Baker Point 136.5
5 Oakflat 146.2
6 Piute BM 156.7
7 Chimney Peak 167.9
8 Jordan Peak Lookout 103.5
9 Sherman Peak 100.0
10 Tobias Peak 107.2
11 Breckenridge 114.8
12 Parkridge 127.3
13 Converse 141.3
14 Olancha 151.4

Shasta-Trinity National Forests (SHF - Forest #14)

Shasta-Trinity National Forests Channel Lineup
Channel Tone(s) Rx Tx Alpha Tag Description

SHF Repeaters
Tone Location CTCSS Tone

Sierra National Forest (SNF - Forest #15)

Sierra National Forest Channel Lineup
Channel Tone(s) Rx Tx Alpha Tag Description

SNF Repeaters
Tone Location CTCSS Tone

Six Rivers National Forest (SRF - Forest #10)

Six Rivers National Forest Channel Lineup
Channel Tone(s) Rx Tx Alpha Tag Description

SRF Repeaters
Tone Location CTCSS Tone

Stanislaus National Forest (STF - Forest #16)

Stanislaus National Forest Channel Lineup
Channel Tone(s) Rx Tx Alpha Tag Description

STF Repeaters
Tone Location CTCSS Tone

Tahoe National Forest (TNF - Forest #17)

Tahoe National Forest Channel Lineup
Channel Tone(s) Rx Tx Alpha Tag Description

TNF Repeaters
Tone Location CTCSS Tone

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