A much needed communications upgrade at Glacier National Park has been the subject of a successful environmental impact statement. The regional director of the National Park Service (NPS) found no significant impact for the plan, which will allow better communication between the different management areas of the popular tourist hotspot.
Park staff have had issues with the aging telecommunications system as the park has grown in popularity, especially in recent years. The National Park Service plan would remove some older facilities and replace them with more modern ones. New towers and possibly permanent radio repeaters (with 20-foot masts) will be installed as the project develops.
Most of the work will help park staff come into contact with each other in areas currently out of radio range. There will be work on the telephone system, Internet access, digital video security systems, utility alarms and emergency radio systems. Many areas have already been developed and will simply be upgraded. New radio repeater sites are planned with radio antennas and microwave dishes. Solar panels will also be installed at some sites. The system will only be accessible to the National Park Service.
According to the NPS press release, the plan will allow commercial public access to cellphones and the Internet, including infrastructure and coverage only in the developed areas of Many Glacier, Rising Sun, Two Medicine and Lake McDonald Lodge, but only after a site specific review has been performed by NPS.
In addition, special care will be taken in existing and recommended wilderness areas of the park, as no commercial telecommunications infrastructure is permitted. This includes the backcountry area of the park, designated in the 1999 master plan.
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