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.)