Yellowstone completes Wi-Fi and Cell Phone Plan
by Yellowstone National Park
April 21, 2009
Yellowstone National Park has completed a plan which addresses the future of wireless communications in the park. Wireless communications in Yellowstone will be allowed in very limited areas to provide for visitor safety and to enhance park operations. The plan restricts towers, antennas, and wireless services to a few limited locations in the park, in order to protect park resources and limit the impact on park visitors.
An environmental assessment (EA) for the proposed project was released for public review last fall. Changes made in response to comments were incorporated into a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) which was recently signed and is now available online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov.
Plans addressing wireless communications have been completed or are underway at other National Park Service sites, including Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada and Arizona, and Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC.
Under this plan, cell towers would not be allowed in recommended wilderness, in campgrounds, or along park road corridors. No cell phone service will be allowed in the vast majority of Yellowstone. Cell service is currently limited to the immediate vicinity of Canyon, Grant Village, Mammoth Hot Springs, and Old Faithful. The park would accept proposals to establish cell service for the Fishing Bridge/Lake Village area.
In response to public comments, the plan calls for the future relocation of the cell tower at Old Faithful to reduce its visibility, and for the park to explore design options intended to reduce the visual impacts of equipment located on Mt. Washburn.
Park concessioners would be allowed to offer Wi-Fi service in some buildings. In response to comments, Wi-Fi will be prohibited in the Old Faithful Inn and the Lake Hotel in order to preserve the historic lodging experience. Concession operators will be permitted to offer Wi-Fi service in other park lodging and general stores.
The plan also calls for Yellowstone to actively promote the courteous and respectful use of cell phones and Wi-Fi devices and to establish and sign "cell phone free zones" in the park.