BWCA cell tower appeal, growing Duluth, winter’s return

AT&T asks appeals court to allow tower near BWCA

AP: “AT&T is asking the Minnesota Court of Appeals to overturn a judge’s decision barring it from building a 450-foot cellphone tower with flashing lights that would be visible within parts of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.”

Pederson calls for simpler vendor bidding rules

Saint Cloud Times: “A St. Cloud legislator is echoing a local business’s contention that state officials set unfair ground rules for vendors vying for a contract to supply food to the Department of Corrections and other state agencies.”

Tevlin: Aw, c’mon, Gary. You’re really retiring from MPR?

Star Tribune: :So, will the man who has interviewed just about every prominent Minnesotan over the past four decades miss being out of the loop? ‘Damn right,’ says Eichten, who turns 65 in two weeks. ‘But it’s time. It’s the right thing to do.'”

Ness lays out plan to increase Duluth’s population to 90,000

Duluth News Tribune: Duluth Mayor Don Ness “unveiled what he called his ‘prosperity agenda’ to an audience at the Kitchi Gammi Club on Tuesday afternoon, saying the keys to growth will include new and better-paying jobs, access to affordable housing and a well-trained work force.”

Shakopee launches fourth-quarter drive for Vikings stadium

Patch: “With deadlines from Vikings owners to come up with a stadium deal that would keep the Vikings in Minnesota, Mayor Tabke and other Shakopee officials are running their own version of the two-minute drill.”

Deputies called; Dusso, Rohne resign

Austin Daily Herald: “It wasn’t a meltdown like many predicted, but the Lyle Public School board meeting had some fireworks. Board members were at odds once more.”

Now supplying 10 percent of nation’s domestic crude production, North Dakota’s output more than just a drop in the bucket

AP: “North Dakota oil drillers have surpassed a milestone of half a million barrels of oil a day, the state’s top oil regulator said Tuesday.”

Old Man Winter comes out of hibernation

Updraft: “Well, it is about time we tap into some colder air north of the border. Ten days into the new year and the temperatures are running close to 15 degrees above normal. … Daylight has already lengthened and Old Man Winter has to play some catch-up. That begins today.”

High-tech devices leave cellphone users vulnerable to spies

Forum of Fargo Moorhead: “Spy technology is now available to the average person who wants to glean cellphone information, read private emails and track someone’s location using global positioning systems. And increasingly, experts say, the technologies are being used by spouses and partners to track, harass and stalk.”

  • Ben Kotowicz

    Subject: Cellular Phone Coverage in the BWCA (Boundary Waters Canoe Area) and Quetico Provincial Park.

    Cellular communications are needed in the BWCA. Technology has enabled our civilization to communicate where there was no communications in isolated areas. This is a welcome advance for canoeists in the BWCA. The cell phone on a canoe trip will enable emergency communications. This instant cell communication was much needed for many years. No longer will a mid-week trip from the BWCA to Ely be needed to call home. No longer will one have to wait for hours or even days for help if and when an emergency occurs. How many canoeists or hikers would be better off today if they could have called for help with a cell phone? If most cell phones are equipped with GPS than that is another plus in that emergency coordinates can be quickly transmitted pinpointing the exact location of the emergency. Another plus for communications is calling home to your mother and letting her know that you are ok. My mother and father would have loved that idea and would have required a call to ‘check in’, make sure everything is ok.

    There is a group that is opposed to the cell tower being built. Their arguments hold little weight when compared to the advantages of having communications in the BWCA. One of their arguments is that the tower will be seen from miles away. And because it can be seen from miles away they say that this is a visual pollution. I don’t agree with their argument because distance, terrain and trees will obscure the cell tower. At a distance from the tower in a line of site, the tower will hardly be noticeable, if noticeable at all. The greater distance between one’s eye and the object, the smaller it becomes, and it will become so small at a distance that it will not be visible to the human eye.

    A light beacon must be placed atop the antenna by law. The law was enacted to make structures larger than a couple hundred feet visible to aircraft in the area. It will be difficult at a distance to distinguish between the beacon light and the star filled heavens when one is in the BWCA. And light diminishes to the square root of its inverse. That means at a distance of five hundred feet the light is only half its intensity at one thousand feet.

    It was also suggested by the group opposed to the antenna two shorter antenna towers be constructed instead of one large tower. While this might seem practical on first suggestion to the ‘wave the magic wand’ crowd, the suggestion has nothing to do with cellular ‘reach’ (the distance that the cell signal will need to reach). The restriction to construct shorter towers lies with the BWCA. If the cell company could build a progression of cell towers in the BWCA much smaller antenna towers would work. The BWCA is a restricted area for building anything. As far as I know, allowing permanent antenna structures to be built in the park is against the rules and regulations. And then there would be a problem of powering and servicing the transmitters built within the BWCA, helicopters or seaplanes would have to fly in on a regular basis. Not good. So the answer lies in building one large cell tower that will reach all the way across the BWCA.

    The first generation of cell towers were built at a great height and their use continues today. For example, in the Chicago area, there is a cell tower that is so high that its reach by line of sight could probably be seen ten miles from the shore of Lake Michigan. The antenna is approximately ten miles west of the Lake Michigan shore. A total of twenty miles line of sight! The footprint of that antenna covers many square miles. As cell phone technology progressed the towers were reduced in size, some as short as fifty to one hundred feet. There is a trade off between the physical size of the tower and ‘reach’. Urban areas have short towers but the number of towers is greater, in some cases every third of a mile.

    It seems to me that to service the BWCA without intruding into the park itself, a large antenna is needed. Until undiscovered technology becomes available, height will be the only way to penetrate to the far reaches of the BWCA. As to the concern of birds, there are more birds killed by moving blades on a windmill than a static structure.

    Imagine a 50,000 AM radio station that builds a tri-antenna array at a height of six hundred feet. Now imagine a farmer that is plowing his field calling to complain that he doesn’t like his view from his North 40 plot. Communications are the backbone of our great country yet one farmer doesn’t like the view???

    I’ve been to the BWCA in the 60s and 70s. My father loved to canoe the BWCA in the 30s. I would like to have the option of cell communications the next time I canoe the BWCA. – Ben Kotowicz