How Cellular Service Came to Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone officials approved the infrastructure necessary for cellular communications in 1995. Top Yellowstone officials wanted to use the new technology and were offered personal incentives (free phones and minutes) to accept it. 

Unfortunately, Park officials ignored the required process and approved the new infrastructure without any public input (a recurring theme for telecommunications at Yellowstone) and without the necessary compliance with environmental and historic preservation laws.  Here’s a brief summary of what Park officials did wrong in approving cellular infrastructure for the Park starting in 1995.

Park officials:

  • Failed to conduct any analysis of the impacts of cellular use and the placement of cellular antennas under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).  Skirting these two laws enabled Park officials to avoid notifying the public and soliciting public comment.

If the public had been notified about Cellular One’s 1995 proposal and been able to comment on it, would there be five cell towers in Yellowstone today?