Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Support the cell tower decision

The recent appeal of Sawtooth Forest Supervisor Jane Kollmeyer's correct and lawful denial of the proposed cell tower on Galena Summit is an attack on the heart of the SNRA.

The well-financed, 50-page appeal is a clever attempt to misdirect public opinion and confuse the legal issues. The appeal accuses Supervisor Kollmeyer of "having her mind made up," and then plays the "public safety" fear card. It brazenly attacks a 34-year veteran landscape architect—a consummate professional—as being "biased." Nonsense! He impeccably analyzed—and then professionally concluded—that the proposal would cause substantial impairment of the visual resource, and that the summit was clearly the wrong location for a designated electronic site.

Public Law 92-400, creating the SNRA, appropriately mandates stringent visual protection. Furthermore, the Idaho Transportation Department oversees public safety on state Highway 75, not the Forest Service. The 300-member Nordic and Backcountry Skiers Association, the Galena Lodge manager, the Sawtooth Group of the Sierra Club, retired SNRA managers and hundreds of concerned citizens overwhelmingly oppose the tower. The Blaine County Commissioners wrote in opposition to the proposal. The appeal callously refers to the 6,000 skiers who annually glide by the unmarred scenery at the proposed site as "physically elite backcountry enthusiasts."

It is of critical importance for the public to understand that there is an existing buried phone line adjacent to the Galena Summit overlook. The SNRA has obtained $250,000 to eliminate the old overlook and build a new one. A telephone call box will be installed at the redesigned overlook. This cost-effective and unobtrusive solution will intelligently address emergency communication concerns. What it will not do is provide Idaho Tower with the first of the many cell towers it would like to install within the SNRA.

Please e-mail Regional Forester Harvey Forsgren— support Supervisor Kollmeyer in her defense of the SNRA.

The cell tower company is motivated by huge corporate profits—period.

Scott Phillips


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