Cell Phone Towers To Sprout Across National Parks
Citing public safety, National Park Service officials are inviting telecommunication companies to erect cell towers on national park lands, according to agency documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The national organization represents natural resource workers at all levels of government.
Invoking public safety concerns, officials in many parks are welcoming cell towers as a way for visitors and their own staff to communicate, but PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch calls the proof behind these public safety arguments “elusive.”
None of these parks raised any public safety worries until recently, after telecommunication companies approached them, says Ruch.
Of all the country’s 388 national park units, only the Golden Gate National Recreation Area has a plan governing placement of cell phone towers, PEER points out. In all the other parks, the telecom company picks the tower location.
“With no national debate and almost zero public input, our national parks are simply giving away whatever solitude and serenity remains,” said Ruch.
The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, straddling the Pennsylvania and New Jersey shores of the Delaware River, has eight applications for cell phone towers from competing telecom companies.
Yellowstone National Park, which already has five cell towers that provide coverage over most of the park, is considering overtures for as many as three other towers. Yellowstone officials announced two years ago that they would develop an “antenna management plan,” but, to date, the planning process has been closed to the public, PEER says.
Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park, with the world’s most extensive cave system, recently approved an application by Bluegrass Cellular to construct a 180 foot cell tower that will extend to many parts of the backcountry, including some Wilderness Study Areas.
Provided by the Environmental News Service.