Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Chirping birds?

Nope, cell phones


With apologies to poet Joyce Kilmer, ?We think that we shall never see/A cell tower lovely as a tree.?

Yep, the inevitable may be on the way to the Sawtooth National Recreation Area?cellular telephone transmission towers in the heart of the Idaho wild lands where chirping of birds could be joined by the grating ring-ring of cell phones.

On hearing this news, an acquaintance suggested cell phones ringing in the solitude would be like, well, belching in the sanctity and quiet of a cathedral.

SNRA officials, who?re asking for public comment on the desirability and necessity of cell phone service, insist that transmission towers, if approved, would be inconspicuous.

The obvious solution would be cell towers posing as trees. But the camouflage will not do anything to cover up the probable increase in costs of services in Blaine and Custer counties that will result from greenhorns calling in for help with every hangnail and hangup. Blaine County Sheriff Walt Femling?s backcountry deputies literally cannot communicate by radio with headquarters, for example, because mountains block transmissions. Backpackers requiring medical assistance are hopelessly cut off from help.

Still, the need makes the dumb chatter cell phones will bring no more welcome. The day will come, of course, when satellite cell phone service, now out of reach of most consumers, will be so inexpensive and commonplace that towers will be unnecessary. Yet, the days of peace and stillness in the Sawtooth Valley will live only in the fleeting memories of people lucky enough to have been there in the good old days.

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