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Public Comment Sought on Mount Washburn Antenna Project

Yellowstone National Park is seeking public comment on whether to mount an antenna at the Mount Washburn Fire Lookout to boost telecommunications services.

According to a Yellowstone press release, the antenna mount would boost service in Old Faithful, Grant, Lake Village and Canyon Village. The release also states that the antenna mount would reduce the amount of antennae currently on lookout and limit spillover of cellular reception into Yellowstone’s backcountry. The project would also include replacing existing telecommunication tours throughout the Park. The full list of project components is below, courtesy of the press release:

Mount Washburn

• Relocate multiple antennas currently attached to the historic fire lookout building to the new mounting structure.
• Construct a new antenna support structure around the east, north, and west sides of the existing fire lookout.
• Build new underground vaults to conceal new point-to-point microwave antennas.
• Replace the existing offsite diesel generator with a propane generator that would provide reliable and environmentally safe backup electrical power.
• Relocate old, buried electrical service with new electrical service. The new service would be buried in the existing Chittenden Road from the existing generator shed to the fire lookout.

Canyon

• Install a new tower and equipment room at the existing telecommunication site near the maintenance building.
• The new tower will support new cellular antennas and one point-to-point microwave antenna.
• The new tower will be hidden from the public’s view.

Lake

• Install a new tower and equipment room at an existing telecommunications site near the Fishing Bridge Junction and the Lake developed area.
• The new tower will support one point-to-point microwave antenna
• The new tower will be hidden from the public’s view.

Grant

• Install one point-to-point microwave antenna on an existing tower at an existing telecommunication site.

According to the release, during construction public access to Mount Washburn’s summit and the Fire Lookout would be preserved as much as possible. However, parts of the Mount Washburn trail could be closed temporarily if construction poses a hazard to the public. The fire lookout and public restrooms on Mount Washburn, as well as the lookout at the Chittenden parking area, could also be closed temporarily.

Per the release, the proposal is compliant with the 2008 Wireless Communications Services Plan. Earlier this year, we reported that Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) was criticizing Yellowstone officials over cellular access—specifically over spillover in backcountry areas of Yellowstone National Park.

The public comment period will last until March 2, 2017. If you wish to leave a comment, you may do so through Yellowstone’s Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) site. In addition you can see drawings and renderings of the antenna project.

About Sean Reichard

Sean Reichard is the editor of Yellowstone Insider and author of Yellowstone Insider For Families 2017.

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