Connecting the Living In Death Valley

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On Rogers Peak in Death Valley National Park, slated for development are two wireless communication devices: a cell tower and a military radome, a structure that protects a radar antenna, according to a National Park Service (NPS) press release.

Rogers Peak, with an AMSL of 9,980 feet, is the only non-wilderness high point in the park and has been relaying wireless communications since 1959. It already has two towers (up to 66 feet tall), three support buildings, solar panels, propane tanks, and an administrative-use-only road to the site. Several federal, state and county agencies require rights-of-way permits for equipment that already exists on the mountain.

Added instrumentation at Rogers Peak would significantly improve safety and instrumentation coverage for military use, according to the NPS. The Department of Defense plans to install a 20-foot by 20-foot enclosed room and tower to support a telemetry antenna and dome (not to exceed 30 feet diameter) for a total height of up to 48 feet, plus two solar arrays capable of meeting 20 kW in power requirements.

AT&T’s plan to build a tower, a 12-foot by 24-foot pre-fabricated equipment building with rooftop solar and enclosed generator and an additional propane tank would be sited on previously disturbed, non-wilderness land. The telecommunications facility would increase cell coverage in Panamint Valley and Death Valley; Death Valley currently has no cell phone reception.

In April, the NPS completed an Environmental Assessment of the proposed additions and modifications to the telecommunications infrastructure and the “Finding of No Significant Impact” is the first step in approving changes and new construction on the site. The NPS outlined specific stipulations which will be carried forward into construction and right-of-way permits, which were not yet issued. Construction is not expected to begin before the summer of 2020, according to the NPS.

May 24, 2019

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