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Contact: Gina Kerzman, 406-888-5838
WEST GLACIER, Mont. [June 10, 2021] – Glacier National Park’s proposed Comprehensive Telecommunications Plan and Environmental Assessment (EA) is available for public review and comment on the National Park Service (NPS) Planning, Environment & Public Comment (PEPC) website. The EA will be available for public review for 30 days; comments are due July 11, 2021.
The plan is primarily intended to address deficiencies in NPS radio, phone, computer and data-based telecommunications systems that support park operations. Improvements to NPS systems include replacing three existing equipment poles with 40-foot telecommunications towers and extending the height of one existing 40-foot tower to 80 feet. Improvements also include installing a radio repeater at the Loop on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, installing equipment such as antennas and microwave dishes, and phone system upgrades. Lastly, the plan includes upgrades to the temporary radio repeater located in recommended wilderness until it can be moved to a location outside the park and installing temporary radio repeaters for use during short-term non-emergency projects or situations.
If needed, the plan includes potential options to install up to four additional permanent radio repeaters in recommended wilderness if other actions do not sufficiently improve NPS radio communications. The plan would allow a flexible response to changing communication needs and advances in technology, including upgrading to new technologies and/or removing unnecessary NPS telecommunications infrastructure if needed.
While recognizing that national parks provide disconnected space for many visitors, the plan also proposes a strategy for commercial cellular and/or Internet access for public and NPS use in certain developed areas. Under the plan, commercial cellular and/or Internet infrastructure and coverage would only be considered in developed areas at Many Glacier, Rising Sun, Two Medicine, and Lake McDonald Lodge. Coverage would be restricted to these developed areas only.
The plan establishes conditions and parameters on the placement, size, amount, and type of commercial telecommunications infrastructure and equipment. Only commercial infrastructure with minimal visibility and impacts to park resources would be permitted, such as micro cell sites or wireless access points. Highly visible infrastructure would not be permitted under the plan, including large-scale towers. The plan would not permit commercial telecommunications infrastructure in recommended wilderness or in the park’s Backcountry Zone as defined in Glacier’s 1999 General Management Plan. The plan would require that signal spillover outside approved areas be minimized as much as technologically feasible, including in recommended wilderness and along park roadways.
Glacier National Park initiated public scoping for the plan in February of 2020. The EA evaluates impacts to visual resources; historic districts; recommended wilderness; natural soundscapes; grizzly bears, Canada lynx, and wolverine; and visitor use and experience.
Comments can be posted on the NPS PEPC website or sent by mail to Superintendent, Glacier National Park, Attn: Telecommunications Plan-EA, P.O. Box 128, West Glacier, Montana, 59936.
Last updated: June 17, 2021