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Contact: Eileen Andes, 701-623-4466
MEDORA, ND: The National Park Service (NPS) has issued a Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for a proposed communications tower replacement in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The current tower provides communication functions essential to public safety and efficient operations for the park and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). The NPS will issue Verizon Wireless a right-of-way permit to co-locate their cellular equipment and replace the existing NPS communications tower northeast of the park entrance and east of US Highway 85.
Verizon Wireless initially proposed construction of a cellular communication tower on private lands near the park’s existing communication tower. The NPS and Verizon Wireless have determined that only one tower is needed to provide radio service to the NPS and USFS while providing cellular service for the US Highway 85 corridor. The new 190 foot high guyed tower will replace the existing 220 foot high guyed tower eliminating the need for aviation safety lighting. Verizon Wireless will co-locate its telecommunications equipment on the tower and construct a slightly larger support shed to accommodate NPS, USFS, and Verizon equipment.
Park managers have successfully collaborated with companies in western North Dakota to reduce impacts to scenery, dark night skies, and natural sound. “Verizon Wireless cooperated with the park to address concerns raised with the company’s proposal for installation of an additional communication tower near the park,” said Superintendent Wendy Ross. “The company’s willingness to work with the park in reducing light pollution and tower proliferation improves the North Unit visitor experience.” Public comments during the EA review raised concerns about cellular phone service bleeding into designated wilderness areas, creating potential cell phone use conflicts between wilderness users. In response to these concerns, Verizon Wireless cellular equipment will only target the US Highway 85 corridor and will not provide additional cell service in designated wilderness areas.
The FONSI establishes that there would be no significant impact on the environment as a result of the selected action. The Final EA and the FONSI will be available through the NPS Planning Environment and Public Comment System (PEPC) at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/parkHome.cfm?parkID=167.
For more information about Theodore Roosevelt National Park, please visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/thro.
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