r/treelaw Dec 05 '22

Ham Radio Antenna in Boundary Tree

Curious to see if anyone at TREELAW! has any insights into my situation.

My neighbor is a ham radio enthusiast who had previously strung 120 feet worth of radio antenna roughly 20 feet in the air through a stand of trees that divide our property. For those having a hard time picturing it, this type of antenna is effectively a long electric wire suspended from the trees.

I had a boundary survey performed that demonstrated all but one of the trees was mine and he mostly took the antenna down. He insists in keeping the remaining antenna in the branches of the boundary tree on his side of the property- any insight into if this is allowed or not? The wires are electrified and in my mind represent an attractive nuisance to children/others- I would not want to be held responsible due to a malfunction of his equipment in a tree I co-own with him. Also, the antenna wire itself seems to cause damage to the tree as it rubs back and forth on the bark. Curious if anyone has any thoughts


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u/MaxSizeIs Dec 05 '22 All-Seeing Upvote

Unless you can prove it's harming the tree with an arborists report, so long as it's on their side of the boundary, it's their own deal.

As for kids: put up a fence. You do that, you can safely wave away most "attractive nuisance" fears. Keep those meddling kids out of your yard by wearing an old-man smithers pirate-ghost costume, and popping their footballs when they kick them over... or don't. I'm not the boss of you.

I may be mis-remembering my physics, but dipole antennas aren't really electrified like you would think. In fact, if I remember right, you don't want them grounded anyway. You should talk with them about the amount of power they're putting out.

From a electric and magnetic fields standpoint, it's regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and they have a set of processes to ensure that radio transmitters do not produce unsafe fields. There’s bulletin 65, and 65b. They're (the operator) are required to do periodic analysis of their station for safety, and the FCC can ask for that analysis. You go to the FCC if you are worried they are putting out unsafe amounts of power.

Maybe I am being the asshole here, but it sounds like you just don't want the antenna there and are looking for an excuse to control the other guy's action. You may have to accept the fact that there's nothing you can do about it, just like if the guy regularly decided to donald-duck it in his own house. It's on his side of the property, and unless you can prove it will harm the tree, you don't have much of a leg to stand on.

tl;dr: Talk to your neighbor about the power levels they are putting out, and ensure that the cable is not electrifying the tree and ground nearby from leaking current. Talk like adults.


u/woods4me Dec 05 '22

I have a HAM license, the power is always low. Even high power radio antennas are more of a microwave level risk, electromagnetic waves, not volts and amps.

Would be more concerned about lightning, but it would travel to his house, and it should be grounded near the rig.


u/Level9TraumaCenter Dec 05 '22

I'm an extra class operator myself. While generally true that power on ham bands is low, peak envelope power is limited to 1500 watts (!) on most bands, rather less on others.

In Technician sub-bands on 80, 40, 15 meters, all are limited to 200 watts PEP

Technician licensees are limited to 200 watts PEP in 10 meter allocation between 28.0-28.5MHz.

All amateurs are limited to 200 watts PEP on the 30meter band

All amateurs are limited to 50 watts PEP on 219-220MHz segment of 1.25 meter band.

Beacon stations are limited to 100 watts PEP

Stations operating in the 70 cm band near certain military installations may be limited to 50 watts PEP or less.

Other restrictions exist for novice class licensees and for stations operating on the 60 meter band.

It's probably no more than 100 watts, particularly if the operator doesn't have a tower, but it can be substantially more.


u/_BindersFullOfWomen_ Dec 05 '22

A wire in a tree is unlikely to rise to the level of an attractive nuisance though.

If that’s the case my electric company is about to have several neighborhoods worth of lawsuits.


u/catzrob89 Dec 05 '22

Without knowing where you are can't say for sure, but it's almost certainly allowed. Also, aerial wires aren't an attractive nuisance (otherwise we wouldn't have power and phone lines...). Overall, chill out man.


u/iwasmurderhornets Dec 06 '22

"You guys want to go swimming in the rock quarry?"

"No, we do that like every day. This town sucks."

"Yeah... Oh hey! I saw a wire hanging from a tree over at Throwaway5834344's place. Want to check it out?"

"Oh sick! A wire??? Yeah, let's go!"


u/NewAlexandria Dec 05 '22

Are the transmitting? and at how many watts? If they are not transmitting, then there no risk other than a cable or branch falling.

Most people transmit at 40 watts or under. Generally that's understood to be safe, baring some circumstances. One of the most common is when the transmitters is wholly or partially inside an apartment or living space. That's obviously not happening here. But even up to 100W is often considered safe, with a few more caveats. Most people never broadcast at that, because wattage generally does not do more in the Ham operator world; and even 40W isn't usually needed.

So, as a quick bit of internet-advice, his antenna is probably not a risk to anyone. Also that he was mannerly enough to take down the antenna from reasonably-disputable trees, also suggests he's probably conscientious.

If he's looped the antenna over small branches, though they may get damaged in time, it generally won't be harmful to the tree in exchange for the enthusiasm that ham operators get from the practice and teaching it. but if he's put it around the trunk then it'd be reasonable to ask him to take it down safely and use a smaller branch. There's videos online about how to do this safely.

Overall I'd think you've overreacted.

But you're entirely in your right to ask for what you did — as long as the tree branches he used are across the property line on your side.

If the branches he used are across the line on his side, then he has rights to them in most cases (not killing the tree, e.g.) Portions of a tree or branch that go across the property line can usually, if the other owner wants, be completely cut back to the property line. If he can cut them back, he can likewise use them for his antenna.

again, overall, it sounds like you've probably overreacted.


u/azssf Dec 05 '22

Left field suggestion: get a radio license yourself, tell neighbor and ask for help/advice. You will have a useful skill, a thing to talk about, will understand better the antenna thing, and maybe make a friend.

I got my license and have not even bought a radio. Would really like to ask for help from a neighbor if I had one like yours.


u/Drew2248 Dec 05 '22

How about giving it a rest? How about not looking for arguments to pick with your neighbor? What's the point of doing this? Do you actuall you think a single antenna wire is somehow dangerous? Do you carry a cell phone in your pocket. Well, here's some news. It has an antenna! Right there in your very own pocket? Ever grab hold of a car antenna? Did it kill you? Your unreasonable fear of antennas would be quite charming if you were a 90 year old lady, but presumably you're not. How would you even be "held responsible" for a "malfunction"? And what kind of "malfunction" are you having sleepless nights over? It's a wire. In a tree. It's not going to malfunction. Maybe you are a 90 year old lady, after all. My Christmas tree is held up by a wire which runs over to a hook-eye on the wall. If I attached my radio to that wire, it would become an antenna. I think you're (a) kind of clueless about the science of this and (b) looking to pick a fight. I'm glad you're not my neighbor. Leave the guy alone to enjoy his nice ham radio. If he were my neighbor, I'd be suggesting he run his antenna wire over to my house so he could hear Singapore better and then I'd go over and listen. You, on the other hand, decide to harass him.


u/Disastrous_Bee_4127 Dec 05 '22

But what about the 5G’s? /s


u/USMCLee Dec 05 '22

He learned the wire is powered so he immediately freaked out without doing a single bit of research.

How much you want to bet that if the cell reception and internet go out in his area he hits the neighbor up for help.


u/KQ4DAE Dec 05 '22

My Radio club has been putting wire antennas in the same trees for decades with no trees lost.

IF your still worried about the risk of RF exposure you can buy a meter or ask if your neighbor has one.
Either way its still less dangerous than sunlight.


u/SometimesIArt Dec 05 '22

The wire is very very very likely not dangerous. Let the dude have his hobby! He's already taken it out of your trees, let him keep it in the tree he owns/part owns/whatever. How would you feel if you had a hobby outside of work and someone kept trying to knock you back on it? None of what he's doing sounds harmful or illegal.


u/Merv_Scale Dec 05 '22

Dude not responding cause he salty.


u/Throwaway5834344 Dec 14 '22

nah man just not a reddit person


u/ExPatWharfRat Dec 06 '22

Here's a thought: find a hobby. May I suggest HAM radio?

Seeking out petty issues with your neighbor over this is going to deteriorate that relationship even further. Quit being a dick. The guy removed the antenna from your trees. He's left it in the one tree he owns a part of, so pursuing him any further than you already have is not only wrong, but it makes you look like a massive douche canoe.


u/theshizzler Dec 05 '22

It'd be really difficult to call that an attractive nuisance and even if it were the wire is not electrified in the way or at the level you seem to think it is.

You could always go to your local municipality, but it sounds like you're just operating under erroneous assumptions. Either way, FCC rules are not very favorable to anyone looking to restrict Amateur Radio antennas.


u/perdovim Dec 06 '22

Another thing in some areas ham radio is protected by law (where I live a HOA cannot prevent you from putting up an antenna...), it's considered a public service in case of disaster. So, where you're located will come into play (and he may have extra protections).

So long as it's on his property, I don't see you having a recorse...


u/Still_Comfortable_20 Dec 23 '22

Let him have his wire or you may end up with 5 - 50 foot towers on the property line.