Yellowstone and Cell Phones: So Goes Solitude?

Yellowstone National Park, once a bastion of solitude thanks to its remote, rugged location, might soon be as accessible via cell phone as Central Park. Well, maybe not that accessible. But park officials have been talking with cell phone companies about erecting more cell phone towers in the park.
Is that good news? I don't think so. Not only could it create more situations where you come across more hikers gabbing on their phones, but it also could lead to some folks gaining a false bravado in the backcountry because they know they could always summon help via a phone call if they screw up.
According to an Associated Press story, park officials met with cell phone company representatives in March 2005 to discuss potential locations for more cell phone towers in the park. Currently there are five that offer limited coverage in developed areas of Yellowstone. Later this summer park officials plan to offer the public a chance to comment on the proposal, with a draft plan released before fall arrives.

Comments

As useful as cell service may be in an emergency, the thought of people chattering incessently on their phones while on the trail sends shivers all the way to my timberline. The parks are places for solitude-gathering and for listening to the natural rhythms of things. If the NPS must allow cell service in the park, they ought to regulate its use. If we ask people to turn 'em off at the movies, we can ask them to turn 'em off in the backcountry. P.S. Why must the parks be like every other place in our over-noisy, privacy-assaulted society? Isn't the point that the parks are inherently different? That in order to really participate in what the parks have to teach us, we ourselves must change a little, make a sacrifice or two, when we go there? Even if one doesn't believe in the sanctity of the parks, can't one at least believe in courtesy?