How many of you have stood in awe at the view of the Sawtooth Mountains from Stanley or as you made your way to Redfish Lake? How many generations of Idahoans have enjoyed that view? Will your children have the same opportunity to gaze in unobstructed wonder at those glorious mountains? How much is that view worth to you?
The Idaho Land Board is right now planning to allow a 195-foot-tall unnecessary cell tower near Redfish Lake that will violate the view that is so important to so many Idaho citizens. The Land Board is willing to sacrifice your Sawtooth splendor for $30,000 a year, when there is already a much smaller, less obtrusive tower in place that will serve the alleged purpose of the proposed new tower and still provide revenue to the school trust fund. Think about that. Are we going to relinquish one of our most cherished landscapes for a pittance that will not provide significant financial return?
The Sawtooth National Recreation Area is Idaho’s crown jewel. The area was proposed as a national park as early as 1911, and the bold rise of the Sawtooths from the valley floor was the primary reason why. Now this scenery that has inspired millions of Americans is in danger of death from a thousand cuts. Monster houses are being built in several conspicuous locations and more are planned, and this cell tower will dwarf even them.
The difference between the McMansions and the cell tower is that the houses are on private land. The cell tower is in the hands of your own state government. Yet the Land Board can approve this tower without any environmental review, any public input, any consideration of the effects of the tower on the local economy or any other effect.
This unnecessary tower is opposed by the Custer County commissioners, the town of Stanley, the Sawtooth Society, the Sawtooth Interpretive and Historical Association, the Idaho Conservation League, the Sawtooth Search and Rescue commander and every member of the public I have spoken to about it. Yet the Land Board is proceeding anyway, and there is no opportunity for appeal. The impunity with which the Land Board can proceed with an unneeded project that is so roundly opposed by local residents and officials is just wrong. Is this the Idaho way?
When you stand, with your feet planted in the earth of the Sawtooths, and lift your eyes to the heavens, what is it you want to see: the mountains that are a testament to the wonders of creation, or a 195-foot metal monstrosity? If you choose the former, call or email Gov. Little at 208-334-2100 or email@example.com and other members of the Land Board and demand they stop this unneeded tower. We have too much to lose to not act.
Ed Cannady is the former backcountry recreation manager for the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.