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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8065 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

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For the week of April 17 - 23, 2002


Save the ridges, 
moon and stars

Valley leaders can save the ridges, the moon and the stars if they try.

You didn’t know the ridges, moon and stars are endangered?

Look around.

Once wide-open spaces outside Blaine County have begun to look like porcupines. Industrial-sized cell towers dot the landscape. Their steely scaffolding seems to spring up overnight in once attractive neighborhoods. They are the latest get rich quick scheme that’s spreading like knapweed.

Idaho’s cities glow in the night. The glow has nothing to do with the light of the moon or stars, The magnificent night sky is losing its battle with commercial lighting. City people are losing sight of the Milky Way.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Blaine County and its cities have ordinances to prevent the loss of landscapes and skyscapes, but they must use them

Blaine County and Wood River cities wisely limit tower heights and require them to be as unimposing as possible. Despite grousing from applicants the limits are working. Industrial ugliness has not overwhelmed the landscape, while the popularity of cell phones has grown.

Next week, Hailey will contemplate constraints on commercial lighting in a meeting on April 22 at 6 p.m. at City Hall on Main Street. The ordinance is similar to one in effect in Ketchum that made the night sky the winner in the glow contest. As the valley’s largest and fastest growing community, Hailey must take light impacts seriously or endanger night skies valley-wide.

Cell towers rank with clearcuts, open pit mines and nuclear waste dumps as blights on the West. Topped with red beacons or flashing strobes, the monster towers mar sage-to-ridge vistas.

Commercial vapor lighting converts blankets of stars into a neon-orange haze. The joy of living in the West is inextricably bound to the sights of sage stretching to infinity, mountains straining toward space, and the moon teasing trees with faint shadows.

This legacy, this simple joy, should not be sacrificed on the altar of technology. Its destruction should not be rationalized by convenience.

The Wood River Valley can have cell phones, good community lighting and intact landscapes if leaders resist the insistence of industry that there’s only one way—the cheap and ugly way--to develop.

Leaders need the support of residents if they are to resist. Call. Write. Testify. Make a fuss. Save the ridges, moon and stars.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.