The wilderness is a wilderness, with or without a cell tower
By Roger J. Skraba
Roger J. Skraba is mayor of Ely, Minn.
The recent Appeals Court ruling that reversed a Hennepin District Court's decision on the AT&T cell tower near Ely was a welcome reprieve from the endless opinions of people who do not live in or around Ely.
Some of us believe in process, and the Lake County Planning Commission did its job. The Appeals Court affirmed this.
If those of us who live here felt that a tower necessary to our safety was about to ruin our scenic and aesthetic resources, we would have enjoined the process and testified against it. We are very capable of making decisions to protect the resources that we enjoy, and we do so because we live here.
The tower in question is outside of the wilderness. I am on a canoe trip on Lac La Croix, and the Lac La Croix First Nation has a tower, a road bridge, a community with many buildings and constant motor vehicle traffic, all bordering the wilderness. The people who live here did not designate the wilderness; as a matter of fact, they were never asked. Should they be taken to court because their homes affect the scenic and aesthetic resources in a wilderness?
The Appeals Court's ruling, on a decision by a Hennepin District judge who does not live in or near Ely, was correct. The wilderness did not change. The perception of one's opinion on the wilderness may have changed, but the woods are still the woods.