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"Can You Hear Me Now?" Verizon Wants To Erect Cell Tower Near Lake In Yellowstone National Park


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

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.


As someone who has had a medical emergency requiring EMS care and evacuation by snow ambulance from Yellowstone let me say that the fact that we were luckily within cell phone range was invaluable to us. My husband was able to call for help without leaving me alone, laying on ice, in terrible pain with a shattered ankle and beginning to go into shock.

As much as I dislike the thought of an eyesore tower and an 'ear-sore' of people yakking, I guess I have to say the tower just might be worth it if it saves lives. Even though my situation wasn't life-threatening, like a heart attack, it brought home to us how 'medically isolated' YNP can be.

Please check in at the park website and read the underlying documents before writing. Every effort is being made to minimize visual and social impact. The tower wil provide a limited service area to seasonal workers and park employees. The FB/Lake area while scenic can hardly be described a as pristine experience within the park with existing shopping, guest lodging, stores, etc. The cell service will drop off rapidly as you leave this limited area.

This is the last major infrastructure area in the park to get a tower. Notice that in the OF area the geyser has continued evevn though they have a cell. I would guess that most folks would not consider shooping or getting gas for the car a pristine experience.

Consider also that probably 600+ employees that make your FB/Lake stay what it is would like to have contact with the outside world without driving somewhere. Landlines in the are abysmal and limited, and no less intrusive.

Ranger Rick

Ps...and no I don't work at cell service for four months is too archaic. :) :)

Although I do not personally own a cell phone, I am not opposed to their use for genuine emergencies.Unfortunately, it seems that the majority of the cell phone using population doesn’t utilize their phones as a tool for use when/where there is an appropriate need…Instead it has become a hideous growth connecting their hands to their ears. It is this large group of bent elbows and cocked heads that tend to ignore common courtesy, and are the ones most led to distraction while driving or walking.

In reviewing the proposed coverage map for this cell tower, its service would be reaching an area around Fishing Bridge which is mostly populated with campgrounds, hotels, improved roads, and other modern conveniences.

The questions that come to my mind are:Would the addition of this cell tower actually add to the safety benefits of the public utilizing this area of the park?Or, would the affects of cell phone use be more damaging to the public, wildlife, and natural features?(IE:People causing even more accidents and negative impacts with distracted driving.Busy texters walking off into geothermal features or surprising wildlife….etc.)

One could argue that people already are distracted in the park while using vehicles, cameras, and the like…..Some so wound up in the awe of this spectacular landscape and its wildlife, that they often forget awareness, courtesies and sensibilities.Considering that the largest percentage of visitors to Yellowstone only visit the park via paved roads and boardwalks… do we really need an additional distraction to these public areas?

If cell phone coverage were to extend over the whole of the park, (which it wouldn’t with this proposed addition of a single 100ft. tower), then I would see its benefit of safety for park staff, emergency personnel, and backcountry visitors.Providing: that continued educational awareness be imprinted upon backcountry visitors; so as not to develop a false sense of security in that the availability of a cell phone trumps common sense and preparedness in remote locations.

Therefore, in my opinion, is the addition of this single tower a true asset to current and future public safety and protection of the park’s wildlife and natural features?

As a former EMS worker, I believe in emergency access. I HATE people jibberjabbering on their cell phones in general and have a long history of loudly confronting people with "Hey - loud and rude cell phone guy!" comments.

In this instance I would favor two things - one, a tower as close to looking like a tree as possible, and two, by word of mouth and signage, a general social discouragement of non-emergency cell phone use in the parks.

A thought: Since the object seems to be cell service for Lake and Fishing Bridge, could two shorter towers do the same thing? Perhaps the service areas would be smaller, but service would still be available in both places and the towers might not be so intrusive.

After reading all the readers' pros and cons, I have to go with putting the cell tower in place. As mentioned, it is to be placed in an area already villifying the "wilderness" with those handy roads, restrooms, restaurants, etc etc etc. Ranger Paul mentioned the most important reason of all - it could mean the difference between life and death because yes, that is more important than your "wilderness view". Legally, Yellowstone is not a wilderness area by definition, is it? I think that belongs to places like the nearby Bridger Wilderness so maybe you could hop on down there for a pristine view.

It appears that someone needs to play devils advocate. While the cell phone will certainly mar the natural beauty for the area it has its uses. Speaking simply as a emergency worker the time that can be saved by calling for help on a cell phone vs. sending someone to get help could potentially be the difference between life or death.

DD-393, isn't there some way to put across your ideas without insulting someone else?

May I submit that comments like this one are symptomatic of one of the greatest problems facing us all today? Incivility accomplishes nothing positive, but it sure can produce all sorts of negative results.

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