AT&T executives announced July 22 that they will consider additional public comments and alternatives for their proposed cell phone tower in the Sawtooth Valley.
The Idaho Conservation League, Sawtooth Interpretive and Historical Association (SIHA), and the Sawtooth Society raised major concerns over the proposal for a 195-foot tall tower when it was announced in January 2020.
The project, if built according to the current proposal, would sit on state-owned lands on a prominent ridge overlooking one of Idaho’s most scenic vistas – Redfish Lake and the Sawtooth Mountains. At three times the height of surrounding trees, the proposed tower would protrude above the landscape and impact the view of this iconic area that’s now enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of locals and visitors to the area every year.
ICL, local community members and their leaders, historic preservation advocates, and others continue to have concerns with the proposed tower in one of Idaho’s most scenic areas. The Idaho State Historic Preservation Office determined that the proposal would have an “adverse effect” on historic resources including the “feeling and setting” of Redfish Lake Lodge.
Under the National Historic Preservation Act, AT&T is required to seek public comment on the project. Comments sent by email must be received no later than August 20, 2021. Comments on the proposal, with a focus on the scenic and historic integrity of the area, can be sent to FirstNetNEPAComments@firstnet.gov
AT&T also announced that a separate environmental review, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act, will kick off in the coming months to consider alternatives. This review follows a petition to government regulators from ICL and SIHA regarding the cell tower project’s negative impacts on sensitive resources.
ICL and SIHA’s joint petition identified a number of negative effects from locating the cell tower at the proposed site. The Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve, historic sites, and scenic vistas would all be adversely affected.
Local search and rescue providers and CusterTel (the local phone company) also requested that other reasonable options be considered. ICL, SIHA, the Sawtooth Society, and Mayor of Stanley also have consistently argued that alternative locations could meet AT&T’s request for expanded service.
With this new comment period, we encourage anyone who appreciates the majesty of the Sawtooths to speak up and ask that this special place be preserved for future generations.
We will also keep you updated on the separate environmental review.
ICL has been Idaho’s leading voice for conservation since 1973. If you’d like to support our efforts and join Idaho’s conservation community, then please consider becoming a member by making a gift here. Interested in hearing more about our work? Click here to learn about our various program efforts across the state.