By on November 18, 2014

PROPSFistbump911: Cellular respiration

Good to see two proposed cell towers draw a total of five complaints from residents and subsequently receive approval to glow at Stilson and Melody Ranch.

Dr. Devra Davis has led the charge locally regarding the dangers of sloppy cell phone use. But do towers cause cancer or pose other health risks? We simply don’t know yet. Cell towers, or base stations, receive and transmit low levels of radiofrequency (RF). It’s non-ionizing energy living somewhere in the electromagnetic spectrum between KMTN and your GE microwave oven. According to the American Cancer Society, this radiation does not do damage to DNA but the cells in your body can be pestered by it. At higher levels, body tissues can heat up.

The few studies that have been done show no correlation to living near a cell tower and a higher prevalence of any kind of cancer. At ground level, exposure to base station RF on the 65-foot and 88-foot sticks proposed in the valley would be well under levels set by the FCC as minimally safe.

Opposition in the form of NIMBYism in Jackson Hole is usually a greater concern. Most would die protecting their property rights and a clear view of the Grand from the living room. But are cellular towers any more obstructive than roadside sign clutter, power lines (along Highway 22, especially), and Fintan Ryan’s berm farm at the old Puzzleface Ranch?

The argument in favor of cell towers includes the ability to at least call the outside world for help when we wake up one day and realize we’ve built a city of problems in our little community.

DISSTongueUnbearably crowded

While Wyoming wildlife managers focus their angst on Washington’s wolf watch, a grizzly situation is taking place in the region. Bear-on-bear violence is up in Yellowstone – a clear indication the nation’s first park is running out of room for the big bruins.

Wildlife experts and outfitters have been warning for a while now that grizzlies were not only back in numbers sufficient for removal from the endangered species list, but they are so overcrowded in Yellowstone they are dispersing to diverse places far north and south, and into urban areas where they are getting into trouble. Anecdotal evidence would back this assumption. Recent news from bear biologists noted that grizzlies killed one another more last season (five such documented killings) than in previous years, though overall fatalities (20 deaths) were down.

Conflicts with motorists were a bit lower than usual, so the presumption is that the excellent berry crop this fall kept bears in the woods more than on the pavement. But the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is probably nearing the maximum number of grizzly bears it can carry.

DISSTongueDownhill run

Councilman Bob Lenz called the prospect of an alpine coaster on Snow King “a cash cow.” Jackson town councilors took control over what they said was a minor tweak to the master plan at Snow King to add an alpine coaster that could go a long way toward the financial rescue of a rapidly dilapidating Town Hill. This according to Max Chapman (managing partner), Ryan Stanley (general manager), and everyone elected to positions representing Jackson, with the exception of Jim Stanford.

Snow King is a cow, alright. In a world of thoroughbreds, the little local hill is on the verge of saving itself by spending millions in capital improvements that have neighbors up in arms and other skeptics asking that the process move forward at a “bunny hill” pace rather than barreling downhill.

Snow King already has an alpine coaster. It hasn’t proved to be a cash cow. In fact, nothing at Snow King has given cash registers a workout since the 1970s. The reinvention of Snow King Ski Area has been a classic model of throwing good money after bad.

Who will comprise Snow King’s customer base in 2020? We can call it the “town hill” and claim it has sentimental value all in the honor of Neil Rafferty’s good name, but who is going to ski there with any regularity? Locals don’t. They go to the Mountain. Or, on crowded days, they ski Targhee, which is still a good value. Or they head for the backcountry where the lift pass is someone else’s tank of gas.

Time has passed Snow King by. If it loses money in the winter when it is supposed to be making bank, what are the chances a recommitted summer season will pay the bills? Getting water to the top of Snow King to fight fires and protect the empty houses in Pine Glades was the only reason to back snowmaking improvements. JH Mountain Resort will counter every move Snow King makes to attract tourists and then some. The area needs a complete shift in thinking. Putt-putt, coaster rides, and a zipline won’t bolster the bottom line unless ticket prices move into the Center for the Arts concert stratosphere. Now there’s an idea.

About Jake Nichols

Jake is a work in progress.


  1. Bob Culver

    November 19, 2014 at 10:25 pm


    Regarding – 911: Cellular respiration –

    Good Job. I find it concise and accurate, even the frequency reference as between KMTN and Microwave oven is clever and accurate. The statement of RF Energy being non-ionizing is right on and only a threat at higher power density levels where heating is a concern. The attenuated signals from elevated base antennas is correct, the attenuation is from both distance and vertical angle.

    If I had any one comment it would be about the line, …”few studies that have been done…”. In reality there have been hundreds or thousands relating to all effects, not just cancer.

    Identifying the FCC as the agency dictating the maximum permissible exposure levels for both workers and the general public is the right way to address the exposure issue – exposures are limited to the specific and well defined maximum allowed by FCC regulations, not some undefinable and emotional “safe” level.

    Yes, I agree that most of the opposition is a NIMBY reflex, or perhaps a “Sky is falling” claim shouted for some hidden purpose.

    I have been dealing with this issue for decades.

    Bob Culver, P.E. Ret., Lohnes & Culver
    Contributor to FCC RF Exposure Guidelines
    FCC-OET Bulletin 65

  2. Shane Rothman

    November 20, 2014 at 10:09 am

    Snow King could crush JHMR in terms of scenic rides, beer/food/ice cream sales, and weddings. So much potential is still there, and the same problem still exists: poor management and poor direction.

    I am so disappointed that we’ve spent millions to get water to the top, and now SK’s priority is to build a building at the base so management can have a new office after they sell their base area lands for millions.

  3. Dick

    November 21, 2014 at 7:23 am

    I miss the glory days when the King was a peaceful uncrowded place for a summer hike among the trees. Summer trails are so busy on the King that Crystal Butte (Skin Cancer Butte) is getting a great deal of new foot traffic. It’s almost to the point that you have to drive out of town, or hike off trail, to find a little solitude.

  4. Dick

    November 21, 2014 at 7:24 am

    Saw this last week:

    Nov. 15th, 2014 Wall Street Journal/Barrons:

    “”Vail also is investing heavily to attract summer visitors to its resorts. Breckenridge, Colo., home of the Breck Summer Fun Park, with slides, a zip line, and an alpine roller coaster and track, already gets more visitors on peak summer days than at the height of the winter season. Vail Resorts has earmarked $25 million each, in the next few years, for its Vail, Breckenridge, and Heavenly resorts to add or enhance zip lines, hiking trails, and mountain coasters. Once operational, the new attractions could generate an additional $15 million in annual Ebitda at each property. “Even small growth in the industry can be profitable, since no one is building new resorts,” Katz says.””

    Vail’s Market Value: 3.2 Billion
    2015 Estimated Net: 90 Million

    CEO Robert Katz Quote: “In New York,
    you can’t be rich enough. In Boulder, you
    can’t be fit enough.”

  5. jake

    November 21, 2014 at 10:15 am

    @BC, Thanks Bob. “Few studies” is a relative term. obviously, but in studying the far-reaching effects of longterm exposure to RF, there is simply not enough data in yet.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply