Washington, DC — Within days, the 100-foot cell phone tower overlooking Old Faithful Historic District will be shortened by 20 feet in an attempt to reduce “negative visual impacts and comments from the public,” according to Park Service documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
Under the Freedom of Information Act, Yellowstone National Park released a computerized simulation to PEER that shows how the new tower will look compared to the present one—see photo(s) above.
Under the original plan, the Old Faithful cell tower was supposed to be “at a height of not more than ten feet above the existing tree tops” and “would be camouflaged to appear in texture and color” as the surrounding vegetation. The resulting tower, however, is a stark, silvery pole studded with antennas, unshielded by trees and lacking any attempt at camouflage.
In order to quell protests by historic preservation organizations, conservationists and citizens, Yellowstone National Park ordered the tower owner, Western Wireless, to shorten the tower by 20 feet and dull its color in an “acid wash” by June 15. Since the hillside where the tower sits is now denuded, any tower will remain conspicuous for another fifty years while the seedlings grow into mature trees.
“The National Park Service is again proving itself incapable of protecting one of the most treasured views on the planet,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, whose organization has been campaigning for the removal of the Old Faithful tower and for the adoption of a national plan to govern placement of cell towers in parks. “The minds that brought us this latest abomination would probably also approve a tower on Thomas Jefferson’s forehead at Mount Rushmore or atop the Washington Monument.”
This latest decision to modify the tower has been made without public involvement, just as the original tower permit was issued without required public notice.
“In addition to the undeniable scenic impact, the National Park Service is willing to allow universal cell phone coverage in even the remotest backcountry, so that soon there will be no place that Americans can go in this country and truly be out of touch with the modern world,” Ruch added. “These cell towers are a commercial intrusion on public lands but the responsible public officials appear to be lost in space.”