Without providing the long history........................

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Posted by Ballpark Frank ( on 08:46:18 09/16/15

In Reply to: Thanks guys. I appreciate the info. posted by Kent


We came frighteningly close to seeing a federal court order forcing the removal of ALL cell towers from ALL national parks; and it wasn't during the Obama Administration. The federal judiciary ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility). Thankfully, a compromise was reached that grandfathered in the majority of pre-existing cell towers, and made a tiny allowance for the placement of a few additional towers, providing the sponsors were willing to jump through a boatload of administrative hoops, and show cause for the action. In the case of Yellowstone, either the existing cell tower at Old Faithful was shortened, or a planned expansion was prohibited, due to viewscape concerns. If that tower was taller, your problem in the LGB would likely be resolved, but truly, the necessary increase in tower height would be very intrusive on the viewscape.

The one addition allowed in Yellowstone was the relatively new tower at Lake. It has added some cellular footprint in the immediate area, but due to height restrictions its utility is marginal, compared to what one would see in a "normal" geography, outside a national park.

I participated in the public comment process preceding the final ROD (Record of Decision). I had some real life public safety experiences to report, where cell service made the crucial difference (reporting impaired/reckless drivers, summoning help in rescue situations). The public safety arguments nationwide are what saved the existing towers and allowed for a wee bit of "tweaking" to the existing cellular footprint in certain parks.

The irony in this scenario is that the primary arguments offered by PEER did not rely on the damage done to the viewscape by cell towers (radio towers have long been part of the national parks environment). Their primary arguments centered on the intrusive nature of ringing cell phones and loud conversations in theoretical pristine wilderness environments. (This is an argument that plays well within the theoretical limits of legitimate designated wilderness areas.) If the march of technology someday produces a new signal propagation mechanism (or economy of scale renders satellite communications markedly less expensive), PEER could find themselves having to argue their next case without benefit of the viewscape intrusion argument.


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