I am a physician living permanently in Ketchum. My wife and I frequently take advantage of the recreational activities in the area from Galena Lodge on Highway 75 to Stanley; these include hiking, sailing, biking and winter sports such as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
People traveling through this area of Idaho need much better communications for dealing with true as well as potential emergencies. If it takes a cell tower at Galena Summit and even if it needs to be 125 feet high, then I am all for it.
Based on my experiences with stranded motorists and bicyclists as well as hikers and other backcountry enthusiasts, not to mention two accidents that I have come upon over my years of travel from mileposts 135 to 170, there is absolutely no doubt that cell phone coverage could be lifesaving. Let me hasten to add that I am far from being addicted to cell phones; I rarely carry mine unless I am heading out of town and I do pull over to the roadside if I happen to get a call.
Out of an anachronistic dream of a totally undisturbed, pre-techno "paradise" as imagined by view-hugging environmentalists, should we close our minds to an even more noble pursuit—the quest for increased safety for our fellow man? Saving 500, even 3,000 annual glimpses of a disguised 90-foot cell tower is not worth one human life. But there are those "environmentalists" who would trot out any argument no matter how specious in order to achieve their own selfish and vainglorious ends by torpedoing this very worthwhile and minimally intrusive project.
Have a public phone located at Galena Summit? Puhleeze. You have the option of keeping your eyes on the road or the trail ... or if that's not enough, try hiking a different trail, of which there are many.
Gary Hoffman, M.D.