FirstNet Tower Threatens Scenic Mountain View According to Residents

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AT&T wants to lease a 50-by-75-foot plot of state-owned land near the scenic Sawtooth Mountain Range to construct a 195-foot tall AT&T tower that will house FirstNet equipment, reported The Idaho Press. According to Scott Phillips, the policy and communications chief for the Department of Lands, AT&T was the only carrier to bid on the lease, which was advertised for public auction.

The land proposed for the AT&T tower is adjacent to a 100-foot tower that was constructed in 2013 by Custer Telephone Cooperative. The Press reported that Custer worked with the community to design the tower “for minimal interference with the view while providing the best communications access.” According to Custer Tel Manager Dennis Thornock, co-location is available on the existing tower should the deal for the new tower fall through. 

However, AT&T stated the new tower is necessary. A representative said, “We’re the high bidder on this land, and we’re wanting to move forward with that proposed site-build. This is a big, important tower for AT&T, for FirstNet and for public safety within the area.”

Concerns were raised over distributing the scenic mountain view and regarding the site being the only international dark-sky reserve in the United States. County commissioners, the mayor of Stanley, the Sawtooth Society, the local search and rescue operation, and hundreds of residents, business owners, and visitors oppose the project.

Regardless, the Department of Lands is preparing to issue the lease, which will generate $29,000 per year in revenue for 20 years. Phillips added, “We have a lease, we followed the law, we followed our own processes and there was only one bid.” 

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