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Another Cellphone Tower OKed for Kings Canyon National Park

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One more communications tower is going up on Park Ridge in Kings Canyon National Park.

One of the last act's Jon Jarvis took as director of the National Park Service's Pacific West office before moving to Washington as the agency's director was to approve the erection of a cellphone tower near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park.

Located on Park Ridge near Grant Grove, the Verizon Wireless tower joins a cluster of other communications towers. Current structures on Park Ridge include: "two concrete block structures containing NPS and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) communications equipment with power generators; a 20-foot fire lookout tower; two 40-foot lattice towers with NPS and USFS telecommunications equipment; and a 30-foot tower on the NPS communications building supporting a passive reflector used for land-line service operated by Verizon California," according to a notice regarding the company's request that was posted in the Federal Register last spring.

"The selected alternative is the installation of the telecommunications facility, including an 80-foot-tall monopole tower with antennas, a prefabricated single-story building beside the tower for equipment storage, and a stand-by generator," the Park Service announced. "The tower will provide wireless communication and internet coverage along a portion of the Generals Highway and State Highway 180 in the vicinity of Grant Grove, Grant Grove Village and Wilsonia in Kings Canyon National Park, and to some remote areas within the park and the surrounding Sequoia National Forest. Cell phone coverage in the area will likely lead to improved communications for National Park Service operations, and may result in improved visitor and resident safety."

The fine print: The National Park Service is required by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to consider all applications for the installation of cellular equipment on NPS lands. The NPS is currently preparing the permit for the telecommunications facility. Once the permit is finalized, Verizon hopes to install the cellular tower in spring 2010.

Comments

Hi, I am moving to this national park in the grants grove area for 5 months starting july 2010, i was just wondering if cell service does work in the grants grove area, and what cell phone service works the best? I am very close to my dad who has medical problems and not being able to talk to him on a regular basis would be very difficult for me.
so if you could let me know about the service and which service would be best i would really appreciate it.
anyone who knows or has an opinion let me know because im totally in the dark at this point!
email me at jessweymouth@aol.com

thank you, very much!


Bruce Hildreth is spouting a trick bs argument. If he'd actually looked at the coverage maps for the tower, which are in the EA, he would realize that there is no chance that any SOS distress call from the backcountry of Kings Canyon would be picked up by this tower.

This comment was edited to remove a gratuitous attack.-- Ed.


One has to bear in mind the legal and business contexts of these decisions. As mentioned in the article, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires land management agencies to consider all applications for the installation of cellular equipment on NPS lands. The burden of proof in these cases is on the agency to demonstrate harm to resources if it is to deny a permit to a telecommunications provider. In a case where the proposed installation is in an already-developed communication site, it is rightfully difficult for an agency to demonstrate resource impairment from an additional antenna or tower structure of a height consistent with the existing development. In terms of business, telecom providers require a certain customer-density to make these things pay. They are targeting developed areas - busy road corridors and areas with lodging or residences. The bars you might get on a backcountry trail is a happy or unhappy accident, depending on your perspective (I don't carry a phone in the backcountry, but I don't mind if you do). So I see little risk that cell towers will proliferate in remote areas. The profit just isn't there. All this said, it seems reasonable to expect land management units to develop NEPA-approved plans that provide clear guidance for assessing resource impacts from proposed facilities. This will give agencies a much stronger basis to deny a permit when the proposal would create unacceptable adverse impacts on park resources.


Mr. Stephen O'Day safety first the cell phone towers are a great idea I was reading were they are blending them into the environment and not ruining the view great concept


I think all things considered the Park Service made the right call on this one. I'm not a big fan of cell phones in the parks, but this tower location has a few special considerations. I'm very familiar with this area and have been at this cell site many times, and I have climbed the old fire look-out tower there (which is a fairly large truss-steel structure with a small enclosed room at the top.) First, Grant Grove, where this tower is located, is an isolated island of park within an area that is mostly Forest Service administered with a scattering of private ownership land. The main body of King's Canyon N.P. sits several miles away. The location is about as good as it gets for a tower, and that is witnessed by the fact that there are already several of them at this location. As Bruce said above, it is that rare combination of a great site technically for the tower, that is also not very visible, and creates a minimal environmental impact. That is a rare combination, most of the times these towers are in very obvious locations. There is also a need beyond just serving the park area. Grant Grove Village is in the park, just below this tower, right next to it is the larger Wilsonia community of private homes on private land. A couple miles away is Hume Lake, a large forest service community of private vacation homes and one of the largest camp/conference centers in the State. The other direction are several private communities, Dunlap, Squaw Valley, etc., these are all permanent homes. The tower is to serve these areas, the park coverage is just bonus, the argument Verizon used to sell the tower location. Verizon isn't interested in building an expensive tower just for the few people in the King's Canyon back country! There are other options in this area for a tower, but they are much more conspicuous, even though some of them would be outside the park. In fact this whole area has numerous antennas, there is one just about every high ridge in the front-country.

But I agree with the disturbance issue, I would love it if the folks in Grant Grove would turn off their phones unless they are in their motel room or it is an emergency. Unfortunately I know this won't happen... and furthermore I confess that I'm guilty of forgetting to turn my own phone off when in the parks.


Bruce, I'd say there are at least two sides to every issue. And really, one of our goals here at the Traveler is to coax out as many differing views as possible, as most usually have merit.


Hey Chris,
I agree with you 100%. On my terms, I love to excape from my business world, and disconnect. I deal with the public daily and love gettting into the romote areas of the Sierra mountains and exploring what it has to offer in a friendly enviromental way. You know, picking up the trash of others who don't care, while you enjoy the fruit of the park's beauty. This time does belong to me. I turn off the cell phone, and I don't log on to my company's computers. But, If I need help because my wife broke her leg! You better believe I would like to make that cell phone call. Wouldn't you!
Kurt, I apprecieate you posting both sides of the story. The popularity of your polls will surely grow. There is always two sides of the story.

Bruce


Rick,

I agree with you that people need time to unconnect from the busy world and take time to relax and enjoy the simpler things in life such as nature, my wife and I both like to do just that. My solution to that is simply turn off the blackberry, cell phone and pager. I do this quite often and it works great! If someone tries to reach me, I let them leave a message on my answering machine or cell service and I will call them back at MY conveinience. I owe them no excuse as to why they could not get in tough with me immediately. If they push the issue, simply tell them that YOUR time belongs to YOU and not them. I think this should be the standard answer for everyone to use. If enough people said that, then maybe the rest of the world would stop calling us on our day off.

Folks, go absoluty stealth for a few days, the world will not have destroyed itself nor could you have changed much of anything in a week by yourself. The world can and will go on without you, just as they will do after you have passed away.

Chris


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