Cellphone Tower Proposed in Park


“Can you hear me now?”

Cell phone users in Yellowstone National Park may soon be able to answer in the affirmative if the Verizon Wireless proposal to construct a 100-foot cellphone tower in the park goes through. The tower would primarily serve Yellowstone’s Lake and Fishing Bridge areas.

Yellowstone Park Superintendent Dan Wenk told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle that the tower would offer a valuable communicative resource.

“It’s necessary as part of visitor safety,” Wenk said. “A lot of people need connection.”

The metal-lattice tower would be located on an existing utility site, the only site within park limits where cell tower construction is permitted under Yellowstone’s Wireless Communications Services Plan Environmental Assessment. This plan requires that the tower reach no more than 20 feet above nearby treetops. Other telephone and electric lines are already in the area.

Another benefit of the site: The tower’s cell reception would not reach into deep backcountry areas.

Still, groups like the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) are protesting the tower’s construction, arguing, that metal-lattice towers are not allowed in the park unless other options have been explored and proven incompatible with the project. PEER member Jeff Ruch said his attempts to get more clarity through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) haven’t helped his understanding.

“We FOIA’d the heck out of them and can’t find any explanation why,” Ruch told the Chronicle.

The National Park Service is currently reviewing the request. It will be accepting public comments until November 16. Address envelopes to Compliance Office, Attention: Lake Cell Tower Proposal, National Park Service, P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190.

If the proposal goes through, construction could begin on the cellphone tower later this fall.


by Courtney Holden      Via Billingsgazette.comWashingtonexaminer.comBozemandailychronicle.com


What do you think? Weigh in in the comments below.






Comment Feed

64 Responses

  1. We were just there in September, and the lack of cell coverage was frustrating…however to have a cell tower 20 ft ABOVE existing tree tops makes it a “NO” vote for me. In such a beautiful, pristine area, that would totally spoil the whole thing. AND would start a terrible precedent for future towers in national parks….

    Although lack of cell coverage was frustrating, it was not VITAL and there were places I COULD get coverage if I tried hard enough.

  2. I am for a cell tower. Lack of cell coverage is dangerous.

    Doris HatchOctober 23, 2012 @ 12:35 pm
  3. I agree with Susan. I worked a whole summer at YNP and was able to communicate via cell phone when I needed to, I do not believe I ever had a time where I missed the better cell service offered outside the park. I was there to be detached from all of the technology, many many people go to the park for that reason, I would feel the park’s aura would be cheapened by the cell tower. The visitors to YNP should have the common sense to have a backup plan on a hike for any mishap, we’ve gone this long without the tower, let’s keep it as close to original as we can. BTW: I am not a hippie, I’m in the military, and would love to visit YNP in all its grace once again. Thank you for having a place for public opinion, it’s appreciated.

  4. I am totally AGAINST cell phone towers being erected in Yellowstone National Park.

    Peter DsouzaOctober 23, 2012 @ 1:13 pm
  5. Yes, to cell phones in Yellowstone…. Phones are the only way to get help on the trails. Sometimes we do need to make contact with the
    outside world.

    MA HensarlingOctober 23, 2012 @ 3:45 pm
  6. No. I want to go to the National Parks to get away from technology and to enjoy being “unwired” for a while.

    Dave Woodford

    David WoodfordOctober 23, 2012 @ 4:08 pm
  7. Absolutly NOT, you are in the park to enjoy the beauty, wildlife. If you cant live without your phone stay home !

  8. no no to cell phone tower, there is enough coverage…

  9. No to cell phone tower, go there to get away from the phone.

  10. I would love to see additional cell coverage in Yellowstone if it can be done discreetly. I know they currently have towers near Old Faithful. How many people notice them?

    To say that everyone should leave technology home when they come to the park is unfair. How many GPS units come into the park?

    There are those that would love to come to the park but cannot because they cannot maintain that communication link to the outside world, but are required to for one reason or another (doctors, public service, IT people, etc).

    Not everyone comes there to “get away” but to enjoy the beauty, cell phone or not. If you want to come and be disconnected from the outside world, then that is up to you. Leave your cell phone home, or turn it off. Just because there is cell service, does not mean you have to participate in it ANYWHERE! Your choice to be connected is exactly that, YOUR choice!

  11. The article states that the location of the cell phone tower is in an area that is already disturbed. I fail to understand the ‘no construction at any cost’ mindset. I truly enjoy YNP, understand and appreciate policies to maintain the wildnerness aspect of the Park, but fail to see why folks would oppose this.


    William C. DykesOctober 23, 2012 @ 10:38 pm
  12. Leave your phones at home! Enjoy the peace and quiet of one of our Nations most beautiful parks! Nothing is that important when you are on vacation. I say NO to a cell phone tower!!

    James MenapaceOctober 25, 2012 @ 12:28 pm
  13. I say no – I was there a couple years ago. We had 12 of us and had 3 cars. We were able to keep in touch enough for me not to feel isolated. If they could make it not stand out like a sore thumb then maybe.

    Maria GerchesOctober 25, 2012 @ 12:48 pm
  14. In this day and age, there is a definite need for cell coverage, if for no other reason than public health and safety — which extends to Park employees being able to contract dispatch centers during emergencies. As a federal worker in Arizona, it’s well known that contact with other employees and even dispatch centers via radios in rugged terrain is not always possible. However, a standard lattice tower is ugly, definitely visually intrusive and countermands the general principles of the Park Service. It is possible to camouflage the towers — I’ve seen numerous instances in urban as well as rural settings, where they are made to look like trees or some other thing with blends into the surrounding area. If the Park Service insisted upon mitigation of visual impacts, I see this a potential health and safety benefit.

    Denise RyanOctober 25, 2012 @ 12:50 pm
  15. I can understand having cellphone coverage for emergencey purposes, but I don’t want be enjoying the beauty of YELLOWSTONE and have some unetiquette person ruining it talking loudly on their cellphone. NO cellphone towers

  16. My husband and I were just at Yellowstone in September and I admit every once in awhile, I wanted to touch base with my children and had trouble with service. However, the rest of the time it was wonderful just being able to be in such a beautiful place and not be bothered by phone calls. I guess it would be good for emergencies but what did we do when we didn’t have cell phones? I would be against and obtrusive tower in such a beautiful place.

    Heidi SavkoOctober 25, 2012 @ 12:56 pm
  17. 15.I can understand having cellphone coverage for emergencey purposes, but I don’t want to be enjoying the beauty of YELLOWSTONE and have some unetiquette person ruining it by talking loudly on their cellphone. NO cellphone towers

  18. In the Lake Tahoe area they make cell tower look like pine trees. Granted they are fairly easy to spot but are not as obnocious as just a plain tower.

  19. Cell reception is vital when you are hiking in the back country of any wilderness area. My questions are: Are there towers in other National Parks and if so, what have the pros and cons been? If the tower went in would it be made to look like a tree instead of just being a metal structure? What is the ground space needed and would it just be for the tower? Does a road have to be constructed to it and if so, what would that impact be to the area of the tower? Did the park ask for a tower? Where did Verizon get the notion that they needed to put a tower up in Yellowstone, and is there an underlying reason for this tower? Why does this tower have to go in an already disturbed area? There are too many questions in my book that seemingly have not been answered…so what is the real reason Verizon wants this to happen and furthermore..who is to decide the final answer?? I go to Yosemite every year and sometimes get coverage and sometimes not…I don’t they have a tower, and frankly I would be nervous if this proposal was being presented with so many questions.

    Kathy Winkelman

    Kathy WinkelmanOctober 25, 2012 @ 1:22 pm
  20. It’s simple to become “unwired” … turn the %$@$%#$ device OFF or just leave it at home!

    Nicholas HinkoOctober 25, 2012 @ 1:33 pm
  21. In spite of what our current social media conditions us to believe, we really don’t need to be in touch with the rest of the world all the time. Those people who think that they do need to have their phones/laptops/tablets taken away for a while. The point of parks and other wild places is to experience a wider more natural world than the ones we live in every day. The more we make our parks like our cities the less they are parks. Next thing we’ll have naming rights- The McDonalds Old Faithful Geyser! Won’t that be lovely.

  22. WHY should YOU decide HOW one is to enjoy the magnificence of Yellowstone or WHO can or can’t enjoy the magnificence of Yellowstone on the basis of using or not using a cell phone?

    Nicholas HinkoOctober 25, 2012 @ 1:42 pm
  23. If YOU go there to get away from the phone, that’s your choice. Leave your #%@$%#$^% device at home. That’s the decision that I would make. That said, just don’t decide what’s best for everyone else.

    Nicholas HinkoOctober 25, 2012 @ 1:45 pm
  24. Well I would say if you have made the journey to visit one of the most amazing places on earth, leave the phone in the car and enjoy your family and friends and mother nature.

    Janene mccumberOctober 25, 2012 @ 2:04 pm
  25. Instead of an ugly tower can’t they put small antennas on top of the taller trees to make it look like branches??
    Something to really think about and plan then you would not even notice.

  26. I have a sick husband(Parkinson’s Disease), we love Yellowstone and try to go there once a year. Yes, I go there for the beauty of the park and the peace and quiet, but there are times we need to contact the outside world. For example what if my husband fell and I could not contact anyone because there is no cell phone service what would we do.

    Lou Ann MorrisOctober 25, 2012 @ 2:16 pm
  27. I agree that a cell tower would add a vital communicative link. It would provide a sense of security for those hiking etc. It would have provided me with an added sense of security when we were there in Sept. I was driving to areas that had cell coverage to be able to get status updates on a grandchild that had become very ill while we were on vacation. Monitoring his progess let us know whether we could continue our vacation or needed to cut it short and head home. I never felt like I could relax because of the frustration I felt because of a lack of service. I did not have the same anxieties when I knew we were in an area that was serviced by a cell tower. I like the suggestion of making the tower less obnoxious looking by having one like in Tahoe.

  28. I vote NO. There are so few wild places left in this country, we should protect the ones that are left. Part of the allure of the National Parks is “getting away from it all”. No one will be in danger because they cannot use their cell phone.

  29. “Lack of cell coverage is dangerous” Really? Ummm let’s pad the world with foam and start in Yellowstone. I have been to Yellowstone twice, I can live without my cell phone and other electronics and in fact it’s quite relaxing and refreshing NOT to have it on vacation. If you’re that concerned about being connected get a satellite phone for your trip to Yellowstone, must we modernize everything?? I don’t want to see cell towers when I’m there either, I see enough of them on a daily basis. Can we not tarnish the tradition and ambiance of our National Parks. I understand the $$ ramifications that the park will probably receive in installing the towers, but in the end are they that destitute that they need the $$$? I will gladly pay more in admission to enjoy and untarnished National Park, JMHO.

  30. I feel your pain, but if it’s that much of an inconvenience for you all then vacation elsewhere, I would if in your shoes and I didn’t feel safe being there without it. I wish I could go to Yellowstone every year, but alas I live more than a 24 hr. drive away, so it’s a treat to visit Yellowstone in all it’s unspoiled wonder.

  31. No no no no no no no no no no no!

  32. No thank you. One of my favorite things about being in Yellowstone was the escape from our technological toys. Yes, you can turn your phone off, but not everyone will. I can’t imagine watching Old Faithful’s beautiful eruption with someone’s ring-tone in the background. No, thank you.

  33. I have no problem turning my cellular phone off. But what do I do to get those around me to turn theirs off. This is a place to get away from all the crap that the city has to offer.

  34. I would say absolutely not. The beauty of Yellowstone National Park should not be spoiled by cell towers that reach above the tree tops. It is ok for hiking in the backcountry to be dangerous. The wildness of a national park should be respected. The wisdom of Teddy Roosevelt should be remembered here: “Leave it as it is. You can not improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.”

    Michael TempkeOctober 25, 2012 @ 3:30 pm
  35. A cell tower within the park would spoil the natural beauty of the park. I vote no thank you. When I need to be connected, I’ll be elsewhere.

    Carol DavisOctober 25, 2012 @ 3:37 pm
  36. Yes, to tower!! Communications today are a must, even on vacation. Too many nutty people out there.

    Charles MooreOctober 25, 2012 @ 3:44 pm
  37. We visited YNP this past summer with my parents whom are in their late sixties and early seventies and our eleven year old daughter. I would HATE to see the beauty of the park ruined for convenience sake. The fact that you are in a natural habitat is so awesome. I felt as if I was already infringing on the animals as it were. I feel that a cell tower would be a direct slap in Roosevelt’s face. He created the National Park to be “for the people”. Not everything has to be “convenient”. We can learn as a nation to do without our “luxuries” for a few hours. You can always get cell coverage in the towns nearby. When we asked our daughter what she thought about a cell tower in YNP, she stated WHY?! Let’s continue to preserve our national parks for future generations!!!!!

    Vickie & John MillerOctober 25, 2012 @ 4:04 pm
  38. My family just got back from the park for the first visit. Seemed like the proposed area was super crowded and lame anyways. Crammed in RVs, a trillion tents, a friggen harbor, hotels or some buildings. Makes sense to ghetto it up some more with a cell tower. 99% of all the people who go to the park are a mile from a road. Of the studs that use the backcountry, NONE of them rely on a cell phone to save their ass, they rely on themselves. As a profession paramedic/rescuer/firefighter, I will tell you that if you are truely injured and need help right this second while ten miles out back, you are on your own for a while. Helicoptors will only fly in certain weather and a rescue party made up of who knows what level of skill, will take a while to get to you and get you out. Maybe days. Yes there are idiots who will call 911 on the trail because the see a bear or they get itchy from a bug bite, but I cant see one possible reason to ruin the rawness of one of the last wild places in the USA by adding a eyesore. You dont need a cell phone, gps, or a radio, you need to stay at best western or in your RV. Choo choo, I hear progress rollin down the tracks, steamrolling everything pure in its path. Also, Im not a hippy, either. Tell me that they will construct hunting blinds in the trees and Im all for it. Yes to hunting season in the park, no to cell towers. Stay grey my friends.

    Paul the GreatOctober 25, 2012 @ 4:11 pm
  39. I hope they don’t put a cell tower in the park. It would take away from the beauty of the park.

  40. No please we can live without this I go here to get away if ya cant be without a phone don’t go.

  41. Noooo, this is an area in our country where you need to be disconnected! Everyone knows,or should know, the dangers if you hike and camp.

  42. Bottom line is that this monstrosity would be an eyesore. Make it shorter so that it doesn’t show above the treetops, or find some way to disguise it or make it blend in with the surroundings, or just don’t build it. I was able to make cellphone calls back at our cabin, had no inclination to chat with anyone while I was watching geysers or taking pictures of a grizzly or bison. In fact, the most common use we had for the cellphone was to take pictures!

  43. I understand the argument for a celltower, but, we are talking about a one and only unique park area of wilderness. How does wilderness equate with high communication technology. I guess I am old school, but, I would rather not see a precident set that soon will break way for other society earmarks. Please do not turn the beautiful Yellowstone park into a disney land or outdoor zoo.

  44. I understand both sides of this equation. However, a cell tower I think is not the only solution to the communication dilemma. Here’s why:

    1) Alternative Communication: It does exist, and in such a form as would be easy to implement in the park. For those with medical concerns, a portable CB radio could suffice. Have a Emergency only band and let people rent them for a minimal amount.

    2) Sat. Phones: These are usable in Yellowstone, I understand budget may be an issue.

    3) If concerned with heal, choose populated trails. I’ll be honest hiking in here I could tell which had people and which didn’t. There’ no shame taking the ones with many people. And in this day and age MANY people have medical training due to their job. (I have to know it as a teacher even to a point)

    4) Visual Aspect: Yellowstone’s natural look is what makes it so amazing. While there may be some hidden towers, 20ft over the treeline will NEVER be hidden, disturbed area or not.

    5) The good of the many: As we may know the good of the many must outweigh the few. Yes this might save lives, or at the least ease some suffering of someone hurt faster. HOWEVER, are there so many incidents at Yellowstone that this is a required lifesaving measure? While there I saw dangerous situations. (one driving trail on the northmost road scared the living daylights out of me) However, this does not mean I was unprepared for it. In fact I knew going in the risks: Animal attacks, car accidents, brake failure, heart attack(and yes I have heart issues), respiratory problems(related issue), being stranded, and the risk of injury. I came here despite it all, to enjoy a peaceful and beautiful place. Did I miss my technology at times? You bet.

    6) Domino effect: Someone said this should go up since there’s already ones there. However, this is the problem. If you put up one, unless it is stopped, someone will want to put another, and another and another. The company wants to make money, not make it look pretty. Not preserve nature. Not even protect your safety. The main goal is money. The safety is just an angle to push buttons. At some point we have to stop the dominoes. This seems like a good time to me, how bout you?

  45. Yes to the cell phone tower. Most people will never see it. Benifits will out weigh any negatives to the wilderness aspect of park.

  46. Your reply is selfish. I would not be proud.you are what is wrong with the world today. Only think about yourself.

    Jane millerOctober 25, 2012 @ 9:57 pm
  47. No. More importantly, no gambling joints, and get rid of that skywalk monstrosity.

  48. I cried when I saw the Skywalk, and they were not tears of joy. :(

  49. When I was in Yellowstone I fell and broke my ankle. We were over a mile from the parking area and there was no communication or way to contact anyone for help. I was forced to walk on my broken ankle for over an hour to get to the car (it was slow going). This is a SAFETY issue. Imagine if someone has a heart attack or injury that requires immediate help.

    I am not sure a metal tower is the answer as there may be a more discreet way to place the tower but it is necessary for public safety. If you were injured and could not get help you would feel differently about the need for the cell towers in the park.

    If you want to get away from technology you can TURN OFF YOUR PHONE!

  50. I understand all of the ‘yes’ responses for bringing a cell tower/ service to YNP. However, the national parks are one of the last places anyone can go and “disconnect.” Folks go there for the beauty, serenity and yes, the quietness of the parks. There are no TV’s in the national park hotels and our kids survived. Get and stay “unplugged” during your vacation.

  51. My family and I visited Yellowstone this past summer and initially we were all frustrated by the lack of cell service. However, after a day or so, we were all detoxed from all cell phones, iPads, e-mails, etc. We were able to enjoy each other during our vacation and truly immerse ourselves in the beauty of Yellowstone. As far as safety is concerned, there were park rangers throughout the park and many helpful staff at all the lodgings. There must be a better way to provide a safe environment for those concerned rather than erect a cell phone tower in one of the most naturally beautiful places on earth! Perhaps walkie talkies would be a better option.

    M. FriedlandOctober 26, 2012 @ 8:46 am
  52. To everyone that is having a cow because of a cell tower, why don’t you have a fit about allowing cars in the park? Maybe we should all go back to riding horses instead. What about RVs and tents? Maybe we should all sleep on the ground under the stars. etc, etc, etc…. I am pretty sure everyone notices the hundreds of cars in any one place in the park a lot more than they would notice a cell tower!

  53. Completely AGAINST this tower. If you absolutely need to be connected at every waking moment then go elsewhere! As for safety, when I go into Yellowstone or any other national park, I know what I’m getting myself into. I am NOT at Disney and I understand that if I get hurt I will have to find a way to help myself rather than depend on 911. I don’t want to have a safety net – I want the wilderness thankyouverymuch!

  54. No to this cell tower. When we were there a few years ago, I loved being able to get away from all the technology and just enjoy time with the family without all the interruptions.

    Kristy TriplettOctober 29, 2012 @ 8:00 am
  55. I think that a cell tower is a great idea. We stayed at a motel abt 1/2 hour from the East entrance and I had no cell reception there and no phone in the room. The only times I could contact family was when we hit a short patch of reception in the mountains of Yellowstone this summer. I’d hurriedly text them to let them know my family was well and where we were headed for the day. Truly, one tower can hardly be noticable in all of that wilderness and the safety factor a strong point in its favor.

    Beth MitchellOctober 29, 2012 @ 10:46 am

  57. I disagree. The really dangerous animal out there is the two-legged ones that come from the big city with their electronics. Lets keep the parks pristine…no towers, no people yakking on their cells because they can’t go five minutes without phoning somebody. I’ve seen it everywhere from parks, cruise ships, hotels/motels, restaurants, shops, and elsewhere. Yes, that includes on the streets and highways. An automobile is overtaking another and the phone rings. They then cut off the other vehicle and slow down causing potential accident conditions. This even though there are laws against it. If you can’t be without your cell then stay home and yak your brains out. The “big” danger is having ear buds in place or talking on the phone so that you can’t pay attention to what is going on around you. If big business wants to install electrics and microwave towers, there must be a profit in it or they wouldn’t do it. I’M STRONGLY OPPOSED!!!

    Gordon HillNovember 3, 2012 @ 10:09 am
  58. I may stand corrected but I believe officials have two-way radios in their vehicles and/or portable radios which have worked effectively for decades. There are also rangers patrolling I’m sure. There are likely more trip and fall incidents by people paying attention to their cell phones and not watching where they are going. Also of note, I have been outdoors in Alaska, Canada, the U.S. southwest and other places during the off season when nobody else was there. It was extremely peaceful and there is a much greater opportunity of seeing wild life if there is no noise. (Oops, I mean sound). Animals, birds, etc. can hear you from greater distances if there are voices alerting them. Yes, I’m aware of the necessity of noise makers in bear country for which you can strap a cowbell to your person to alert bears of your presence but that generally applies to more remote locales.

    Gordon HillNovember 3, 2012 @ 10:25 am
  59. No to cell phone tower. All of the noise from everyone’s Cells and believe me…….you will hear everyone’s cells…..will ruin the experience of seeing the wildlife and enjoying nature peacefully.

  60. I agree. No cell tower in Yellowstone. If folks can’t stand to be unwired, then don’t come to the park

  61. no cell phone tower!

    george roedellNovember 7, 2012 @ 7:13 pm
  62. Yes, put up the tower. I want to be able to use my phone if I can. The site is already “spoiled” so to speak because of the other tech already in place at that location. Unless you are looking down on it from above,the top of a tower sticking 20 feet over the top of the tree tops will not be easy to see, even if you have some idea where in the park it is. Stop trying to impose your idea of a vacation on everyone else. Maybe some of us would like to enjoy both the wonders of nature and the advantages of technology. Who are you to tell me that’s not the proper way to enjoy Yellowstone?

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