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Additional Comment Sought on Fire Lookout Project

Yellowstone National Park is seeking additional public comment on their plan to install additional antennae on the Mount Washburn Fire Lookout.

Earlier this year, we reported Yellowstone was seeking public comment on a proposal to install a new antenna mount to boost cellphone service in Old Faithful, Grant Village, Lake Village and Canyon Village. Officials say the new antenna would also curtail cell access in Yellowstone’s backcountry.

That first comment period ran January 30 through March 2, 2017.

Cellphone reception is a contentious topic in Yellowstone National Park. Indeed, the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) have repeatedly criticized the park for expanding cellular access, saying access demeans the backcountry experience. From our earlier story:

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.

According to a Yellowstone press release, officials are now looking at how the proposed antenna mount will affect the Fire Lookout’s appearance. Under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, any effects on historic properties must be taken into account with regards to projects like these. From the press release:

The park believes the effects from most of the project to improve wireless infrastructure (in other areas) would be negligible based on visual simulations; the exception being the visual effects to Mount Washburn. Information on the factors park managers consider when they assess effects is available in 36CFR800.5.

The park is seeking public comment on whether the construction of this mounting structure would cause an adverse effect to the historic fire lookout. Information on this project is available online through the Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) system.

Submit comments through PEPC, by hand-delivery, or by mail. Comments will not be accepted by fax, e-mail, or by any other means. Comments must be received by midnight MDT, June 22 2017.

Hand deliver comments during business hours to:
Albright Visitor Center
Attention: Mt. Washburn Determination of Effect
Mammoth Hot Springs
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190

Mail comments to:
Yellowstone National Park, Compliance Office
Attention: Mt. Washburn Determination of Effect
P.O. Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190

Bulk comments are prohibited. In addition, be cautious including personally identifiable information, as your comment may be made public at any time.

About Sean Reichard

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

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