MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, Wyo. (PRESS RELEASE) – The National Park Service (NPS) encourages public comment on a proposal to improve telecommunication services in developed areas of Yellowstone National Park. The proposal would also give the park the opportunity to remove antiquated telecommunication systems currently on mountain tops and from the backcountry as underground fiber within the road corridor becomes operational.
If approved, the proposal (an application for a right-of-way permit) from Diamond Communications, LLC. would allow for:
- The installation of fiber-optic cable along 187 miles of park roads. See map.
- Appropriate equipment e.g., rubber-tracked vehicles, to install the conduit underground within the existing road corridor, immediately adjacent to and/or directly into the roadbed. See photo.
- Temporary and localized traffic restrictions and speed reductions in work areas from April until early November for three consecutive years.
- Construction to begin as early as 2021.
- The removal of five microwave radio reflectors that were installed in the park’s backcountry around 1980. Removal could begin in the near future.
- Currently, these reflectors are an essential component of the park’s microwave radio telecommunication system.
- The existing microwave radio system is the only means of telecommunication (telephone, 911 and computer networks) to the park.
- Each reflector is about 28 feet high and 24 feet wide.
- Broadband over fiber-optic cable could replace this antiquated system.
Additional proposal details include:
- It is estimated that 8% of the park is currently covered by cellular.
- The proposal would not expand authorized cellular phone coverage areas in the park but would substantially improve coverage quality in existing developed areas.
- This proposal is consistent with Yellowstone National Park’s Wireless Communications Services Plan.
- No new cellular towers would be installed under this proposal.
- Diamond Communications, LLC. would pay for all of the up-front construction costs.
- Once installed, Yellowstone National Park could subscribe to the broadband services.
- Commercial telecommunication systems can be considered a utility and, like other utilities, are authorized on NPS lands using the right-of-way permit process.
The proposal addresses the following park issues:
- Existing bandwidth on the existing microwave radio system is inadequate and no longer meets the park’s needs for business operations, employee communications, and emergency communications and operations.
- Due to extremely remote duty stations, recruitment/retention for both the NPS and its business partners is severely affected by a lack of consistent and reliable connectivity.
If this proposal is approved, the benefits to NPS staff, partners and visitors would include:
- Improved telephone, cellular phone, park computer networks and broadband internet services that could meet critical park operations, safety and emergency services and visitor information needs and expectations in developed areas.
Following this comment period, an environmental assessment (EA) will be prepared to analyze the proposal and its impact on the environment. The EA will comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and other applicable laws and regulations. The NPS will release the EA for public review before making a final decision about the proposal. The EA is scheduled to be completed in winter 2021.
Comments must be received by October 21, 2020. Comments may be submitted online at: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/fiber or by mail. Comments will not be accepted by fax, email, or other means. Mail comments to: Compliance Office, Attention: Fiber Optic Project, P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190.
Public Comment Considerations
- Bulk comments in any format submitted on behalf of others will not be accepted.
- Before including your address, phone number, email, or other personal information, be aware that your entire comment – including your personally identifiable information – may be made public at any time. You may ask us to withhold your personally identifiable information from public review, but we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.
– www.nps.gov/yell –
About the National Park Service: Since 1916, the National Park Service has been entrusted with the care of America’s more than 400 national parks. With the help of volunteers and partners, we safeguard these special places and share their stories with millions of people every year. Learn more at www.nps.gov.
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