Is cell service in Yellowstone National Park important enough to you that a 100-foot cell tower should be erected near the Lake area in the park?
Yellowstone officials currently are reviewing a proposal from Verizon Wireless to put up that tower to serve the Lake and Fishing Bridge areas.
According to park officials, the Lake/Fishing Bridge area is the only location in the park where construction of a new cell tower was permitted under the park’s Wireless Communications Services Plan Environmental Assessment.
The proposed gray steel lattice tower and accompanying ground facilities would be erected at an existing utility site, next to existing telephone and electric lines. However, the tower as proposed would rise 30 feet above the surrounding tree tops.
Yellowstone guidelines "state that towers taller than 20 feet above the surrounding tree height require a detailed explanation of why a shorter installation is not feasible," park documents note, adding that, "The extra ten feet of height in this case avoids the need to construct additional towers in the area in the future. Designing the tower with an extra ten feet will promote site-sharing by multiple users, consistent with the 2008 Wireless Plan EA."
A crane and weather balloons were used to simulate the height of the proposed tower in order to ensure that it would not be visible from the nearby Lake Hotel, Fishing Bridge and Lake Lodge historic districts. This particular site was also selected in order to minimize the cell signal’s reach into the park’s backcountry.
Earlier this year Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility harshly criticized the proposal, saying not only had the park failed to seek public comment on the matter, but that Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk pushed the plan without adhering to guidelines in the Park Service's Management Policies, in violation of the National Historic Preservation Act, and without waiting for comments on the project from the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office.
Additional details of the project, including the categorical exclusion, a minor amendment to the Wireless Plan EA, and an electronic form to submit comments on the internet can be found online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/LakeCellularSite
Written comments may be submitted through the web site, in person or by mail to Compliance Office, Attention: Lake Cell Tower Proposal, National Park Service, and P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190.
Comments must be received or postmarked by midnight, November 16, 2012.
Comments will not be accepted by phone, fax, or e-mail, and submitted responses may be made publicly available at any time.
Comments will be reviewed by the NPS prior to approving a right-of-way permit for the facility. If the right-of-way permit is approved, construction would begin later this fall or in early 2013.