Cowboys Ride With Satphones at Their Side

Government gives 7 ranchers phones to warn of wildfires
By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 31, 2008 6:07 PM CDT
Cowboys Ride With Satphones at Their Side
Paul Nettleton takes his Iridium Satellite phone from its protective case Tuesday, August 26, 2008 near his ranch in Silver City, Idaho.    (AP Photo/Charlie Litchfield)

(Newser) – Cowboys are men of spurs and solitude—and satellite phones, too. Federal and state agencies have equipped seven Idaho ranchers with satellite technology so they can make clear, quick calls if a wildfire breaks out, the AP reports. "Minutes count in that country," one cowboy said. "Right now, it's pretty quiet. But it'll come."

A 3-week blaze that burned up 3,000 square miles last year inspired the switch to satellite technology from cell phones, which are often blocked by terrain. The move cost about $10,000—chickenfeed next to the $34 million needed to restore Idaho's fire-charred land. "If I see smoke, I can get it reported very quickly,” one cowboy said. “I could have used it last year a lot, that's for sure." (Read more satellite phones stories.)

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