Friday, April 20, 2007

Cell tower proposed for Galena Summit

Structure designed to look like evergreen tree


By JASON KAUFFMAN
Express Staff Writer

The public is being invited to comment on a proposal to place a 90-foot cellular tower on Sawtooth National Recreation Area land near Galena Summit, northwest of Ketchum. In this simulated photo, the camouflaged tower is the tall ?evergreen tree? poking out of the main forest canopy. The dirt road shown in the photo is the old Forest Service road that takes off from the north side of Galena Summit on state Highway 75.

The public will have the chance to comment on a proposal to allow Ketchum-based Idaho Tower Co. to erect a wireless telecommunications facility on U.S. Forest Service land on Galena Summit near state Highway 75.

The facility would consist of a 90-foot self-supporting cellular tower designed to resemble an evergreen tree, a 968-square-foot equipment building, and a fenced enclosure around the building and tower.

The proposed location for the facility is near the old microwave reflector site northeast of the Galena Summit parking area. The spot is located within the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

The proposal would designate the existing Sawtooth Telephone communication facility as a "communication site," which requires an amendment to the Sawtooth National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan.

The Idaho Tower Co. conducted a balloon test to see if the cellular tower would be visible from the highway, the project leader for the Galena cellular tower project, Jackie Richter, said Wednesday.

From the highway on the south side of the summit, the balloon wasn't visible while set at a height of 90-feet at the proposed cellular tower site, Richter said.

However, simulated photos of the tower at different distances along the state Highway 75 travel corridor indicate the tower would be slightly visible from several points on the north side of Galena Summit.

Representatives with the Idaho Tower Co. selected the type of camouflaged cellular tower that would best blend into the surrounding forest, Richter explained.

"In this case, it's a pine."

The proposed tower would house up to four cellular carriers. At a height of 90 feet, the tower would clear the surrounding trees by about 40 feet, a Forest Service news release states.

A one-story equipment building would have a forest cabin façade and would provide four equipment rooms for wireless providers.

The benefits of having a cellular tower at the site would include cellular coverage on state Highway 75 and "better emergency communications," Richter said.

While the proposal is only considering a single 90-foot cellular tower, other options could be considered, she said.

"Based on the comments, there could be other alternatives looked at," Richter said.

A 30-day comment period on the Sawtooth National Forest's proposed action opened to the public on Thursday, April 19. The purpose of the comment period is to provide an opportunity for the public to comment on or suggest changes to the proposed action prior to decisions being made.

In order to establish standing to appeal the final decision, public comments will have to be submitted during the 30-day comment period, the Forest Service news release states.

Written comments must be submitted to Jane Kollmeyer, forest supervisor, attention Galena Communication Site, 2647 Kimberly Road East Twin Falls, ID 83301. The office business hours for anyone submitting hand-delivered comments are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.

Electronic comments can be submitted to comments-intermtn-sawtooth-nra@fs.fed.us.

Copies of the proposed action and maps of the project area are available by contacting Project Leader Jackie Richter at (208) 737-3200.




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