Romanticism, too. But here are the realities about the plan.
Steve Wilbers' June 20 commentary ("A scar on 'bewildering beauty'") shows how much misinformation has been written (and believed) about the proposed cell tower in Fall Lake Township.
First, the tower does not sit "atop a 150-foot ridge." In fact, the hill that the tower sits on is only 41 feet higher than the nearby Fernberg Road and is not 150 feet higher than anything near it except for a small sliver of land more than one-half mile to the north-northwest of the tower site. I suggest that readers go to Google Earth, locate the tower site (Lat. 47°56'3.12" N, Long. 91°42'9.86" W) and use the ruler to measure from the tower site up half a mile in all directions.
They will find that one-half mile to the south, the tower site sits only 50 feet higher; likewise, due west one will find an elevation of 1,437, only 34 lower than the tower site. To the east? Only a 48-foot difference.
The "150-foot ridge" myth has been used over and over again to exaggerate the impact the 450-foot tower will have on the surrounding landscape, and it's really time to squelch it.
Wilbers continues to show his lack of information with his condescending statement that the "good people of Ely" are entitled to cell service. So here's the fact. The good people of Ely already have cell service. This tower is meant to serve those who live in the town of Fall Lake, the town of Morse, and those who visit these towns.
As chair of the Morse-Fall Lake Rural Protection Association, I can tell you that this tower will truly enhance the communication capabilities of our first responders when they respond to emergencies in our townships, whether in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness or not.
These are the volunteers who arrive on the scene long before the ambulance does. Our roster of 30 has responded to hundreds of calls over the past few years.
I have read the fearful remarks that visitors to the BWCA will be texting, tweeting and so on. This would be foolish, since there would be nowhere to charge up the batteries in case those phones were needed for an emergency. And, yes, those who visit the BWCA do expect to have someone respond to an emergency if it arises while they are camping in this wilderness.
Wilbers uses romantic and emotional quotes to make his point, but I doubt that will help if you have just had an injury accident on the Cloquet Line, a heart attack on Basswood Lake or a debilitating injury in your own home if the land line is across the room.
Finally, Wilbers claims that the currently operational 199-foot tower provides "nearly comparable service." The truth is that the 450-foot tower will provide 72 more square miles of coverage to our area. That's an area larger than the city of Minneapolis.
Opponents have made it sound as though the lights of this tower would be like a large spotlight glowing down on every square inch of the BWCA. In fact, this tower would be visible from fewer than 1 percent of the 1,175 lakes in the BWCA, and only a handful of the hundreds of campsites in this wilderness would be affected.
In other words, for the most part, one might just catch a glimpse of the offending light while paddling by. If you were paddling into the BWCA, the light would be behind you. If you were paddling out, it just might make you realize you were that much closer to a refreshing shower or a cold beverage.
Cellphones have been used to send pictures from the top of Mount Everest and videos from the tumultuous streets of the Middle East during the Arab Spring. Surely the citizens of Fall Lake and Morse are entitled to the same communication capabilities.
The court of appeals got this one right.
Mary Tome is chair of the Board of Supervisors for the town of Fall Lake in northeastern Minnesota.
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