January 4, 2012
WEST GLACIER, MONT. - Glacier National Park is requesting public comment on a proposal from CenturyLink to install a new telecommunications tower in the St. Mary administrative area inside the park. An environmental assessment financed by the project proponent is being conducted. Public comments on the tower proposal should be directed to the park by February 3.
The tower would service the greater St. Mary area and is part of a larger statewide initiative through the Montana Public Service Commission to upgrade telecommunications facilities to small rural exchanges in Montana.
The telecommunication capacity in the St. Mary area, both inside and outside the park, is currently inadequate to support resident, visitor, and government internet demands. The new tower would upgrade the area's telecommunication capacity to a modern standard and improve the reliability and speed of internet access. The National Park Service's existing 50-foot radio tower in St. Mary would be removed and replaced with a new, approximately 80-foot tall microwave antenna and radio support structure. The new tower would be constructed of steel lattice supported on a concrete footing, and would include a 6-foot diameter microwave dish for CenturyLink and up to three National Park Service antennas.
The new structure would be located next to the existing park telecommunications building in the St. Mary administrative area, and the microwave feed wiring would be connected to the existing CenturyLink equipment building. The new structure would be designed to provide a direct line of sight to the CenturyLink Divide Mountain transfer station.
To date, two alternatives have been identified: 1) The no-action alternative, and 2) an action alternative that would remove the existing National Park Service radio tower and install a new tower.
Comments and concerns on the proposed project should be submitted by Friday, February 3. This date was extended from January 27 due to a mailing error. Comments can be posted online at https://www.parkplanning.nps.gov/glac or may be mailed to: Superintendent, Glacier National Park, Attn: St. Mary Microwave Tower Proposal, P.O. Box 128, West Glacier, MT, 59936.
There will be another opportunity to comment on the project when the environmental assessment is completed.