Selfies and Safety Outshining Serenity at Yellowstone?

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Yellowstone National Park Service plans on adding two more cell towers to their domain and has closed popular trails near Mt. Washburn to increase connectivity in the park, according to Lone Peak Lookout. Park officials said contractors will build a three-sided antenna mounting structure at the Mount Washington site and repair rock walls and surfaces around the lookout, reduce the number of antennas attached to its exterior, and complete concrete preservation work in and outside of the structure.

The closures have prompted various reactions from nature-lovers; some applaud the construction while others claim it is intruding on the wilderness experience. An advocacy group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) issued a release saying: “One of Yellowstone National Park’s most popular hiking destinations today closed for the summer so that Verizon can multiply its capacity in the park 38 times. The project would also add two more towers in the park’s Canyon and Lake areas, part of a growing web of commercial wireless facilities extending coverage across America’s first park, including much of its remote backcountry. Hiking and communing with nature have become secondary at Yellowstone to sending selfies, receiving texts and playing online games,” said PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “The park’s telecommunications planning has been completely captured by Verizon, CenturyLink and AT&T.”

Local tower developer Andy Henckel with Montana Tower told Lone Peak Lookout, “If I could find a tower that overlooked Yellowstone, it would be a million dollar site. Let’s say if I developed it, maybe I’m into the whole shebang for $300,000. Then I could sell that. They call it vertical real estate.”  Henckel’s company is currently doing repairs on a site on top of Bridger Ridge.

August 13, 2018     

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