ARMER Tower on the Gunflint Trail? NIMBY!

A radio tower dotting the scenic views at the end of the Gunflint Trail?  No thank you,  Not In My Back Yard.  There is no need for this additional tower because we have good enough coverage without it.  In the event of a wildfire the USFS uses VHF radios, not ARMER and there’s good VHF coverage.

No one wants a radio tower in their photographs so please do not allow this to happen.

Here’s a post from Sarah Hamilton talking more about the issue at hand.

Here is where we are asking for your help. Please send letters to all of our Commissioners and our Sheriff. (contacts below)

AND we need all the support we can get at the meeting Tuesday! You do not have to speak.

New Communications tower proposed for
end of the Gunflint Trail area

Cook county and the state of Minnesota are now proposing to build a tower near Seagull Lake at the end of the Gunflint Trail as part of its ongoing project of implementing a new communications radio system known statewide as ARMER. Originally six new towers were planned for the system within Cook County, of which two have been built. This new tower was requested of the state by the county when it was found there are some weak spots in coverage at the end of the trail, much like with the previous VHF radio system.

As can be seen in illustration. The tower would be about one and a half miles from Seagull Lake. This proposed site location is official from MNDOT. They are in process of engineering this site “due to a request from Cook County.” It was not in the original ARMER radio tower plan and would therefore be considered a local enhancement giving the county control if it is to be built but also possibly incurring great local expense to county as well.

This tower would be seen from everywhere up here in this fire scarred narrow corridor through the BWCA wilderness. To give you an idea, placing any tower, even if less than 200 feet within this burned and rocky landscape would be the most prominent visible feature on the landscape from places like the Palisades, the Kekakabic and Magnetic Trails, most of Seagull Lake, Mediation Lake, Larch Lake and creek, the high trails up at Chick-Wauk Nature Center, the portage up to Jap (Paulson) Lake, most of the Gunflint Trail from before the forest service guard station to just before the Seagull Lake public landing. That is only a few places of note where visible; actually it would be the dominant feature on the landscape through this whole burned area and would be placed in the heart of an area where many locals and tourists recreate and pick blueberries.

In talking with a number of people who have served on the local volunteer fire department, the sheriffs department, as well as a local resident who does radio and tower work for the county and is an advocate of ARMER, I have been told that the new radios do work up here now, though there are weak spots and one can find occasional dead spots in coverage. Some have said that local coverage is about the same or slightly better than the old VHS system as it is now configured without an added tower.

We are not against enhanced radio use for safety reasons, but merely trying to come up with an alternative that would not involve a tower in this most visually sensitive area. We already have a new tower on Pine Mountain, with others to be built on Lima Mountain, near Devilfish Lake and in the Sawbill Lake area, as well as one in the Cascade River Valley, which is currently planned to be a 330 foot tower with strobe and red lights. One alternative to a tower up at the end of the trail would be to connect the existing facility on the Gunflint Tower through the new fiber optic to a much smaller tower at end of trail. The other would be to look into the feasibility of using an outdoor bidirectional amplifier like what was used in Murray County, MN and approved by MNDOT’s ARMER program. We ask that you contact the Cook County commissioners if concerned by this.

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