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

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