Wilderness advocates advance case against AT&T tower on edge of BWCA

Value of wilderness, ubiquity of cell phones at heart of cell tower dispute

The Friends of the BWCAW will continue a case against telecommunications giant AT&T that challenges the company’s plan to erect a 450′ cell phone tower on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Storified by Minnesota Today · Fri, Jul 13 2012 05:28:13

We are appealing the #BWCA cell tower case to the MN Supreme Court. http://www.friends-bwca.org/2012/07/friends-requests-supreme-court-review-of-cell-tower-ruling-by-minnesota-court-of-appeals/ Thanks to everyone for your support!Friends of the BWCAW

MPR News: Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness Executive Director Paul Danicic said the group’s petition argues that the Minnesota Court of Appeals misinterpreted the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act by ruling that the tower would only affect a small area of wilderness.

“This sets us up on a slippery slope for the Boundary Waters wilderness character because every lake in the Boundary Waters is protected as wilderness by state and federal law,” Danicic said.

AT&T has argued that the tower is partly a safety issue because it would allow hikers in the wilderness to call 911 for help during emergencies.

But Danicic said that AT&T has other options.

“Why can’t we do this in a way that meets the needs of residents in the area, and even wilderness users if that’s what they’re after, and respects the natural scenic vistas that are treasured by so many people?” Danicic said.

The group expects the Minnesota Supreme Court to respond to the petition by fall.

Here’s the filing:
Proposed AT&T cell tower visible from within the BWCA faces new legal challenge from @FriendsBWCAW http://bit.ly/BWCAW-tower-SCMinnesota Today
Proponents of the tower say it would bring added safety for paddlers should they need assistance getting out of the wilderness area. They also say it brings an enhanced quality of life for locals. 
Ely Echo Editorial had GREAT insight into cell tower RT @mntoday Proposed AT&T cell tower visible from within the BWCA http://bit.ly/BWCAW-tower-SCHeidi Omerza
Ely Echo: “To be clear, we like having people come here and enjoy all that the BWCAW has to offer. And if you take a look at what the younger generations are interested in today, you can start with a cell phone.” 
Minnesotans expressed a divide on the appeal.
Ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. @FriendsBWCAW: We are appealing the #BWCA cell tower case to the MN Supreme Court. http://www.friends-bwca.org/2012/07/friends-requests-supreme-court-review-of-cell-tower-ruling-by-minnesota-court-of-appeals/Hollee Coombe
Fighting the good fight. http://fb.me/107j5WuNLemilie hitch
The bullies are back again. Friends of the Boundary Waters go to MN Supreme Court. http://www.kare11.com/news/article/982920/14/Group-asks-MN-high-court-to-hear-BWCA-tower-case-Nancy McReady
@wkbt Telling all my friends to rally behind striking down the BWCA tower. Shame on you AT&T, shame on you!!George Watson
Off to the BWCA. Hopefully twitter is still here when I get back. #peaceout http://pic.twitter.com/znD8adubCharlie Landis

  • L. Miller

    AT&T has viable other options including building two smaller towers, the additional expense would be made up in the matter of months and provide better coverage. I actually switched from T-Mobile to another carrier last year because of the potential merger of the companies. I hope others would consider changing their companies in protest. I changed to Credo a company on the Sprint network that supports environmental and other progressive causes.