Comprehensive Telecommunications Plan
The plan is primarily intended to address deficiencies in NPS radio, phone, computer and data-based telecommunications systems that support park operations. Improvements to NPS systems include replacing three existing equipment poles with 40-foot telecommunications towers and extending the height of one existing 40-foot tower to 80 feet. Improvements also include installing a radio repeater at the Loop on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, installing equipment such as antennas and microwave dishes, and phone system upgrades. Lastly, the plan includes upgrades to the temporary radio repeater located in recommended wilderness until it can be moved to a location outside the park and installing temporary radio repeaters for use during short-term non-emergency projects or situations.
If needed, the plan includes potential options to install up to four additional permanent radio repeaters in recommended wilderness if other actions do not sufficiently improve NPS radio communications. The plan would allow a flexible response to changing communication needs and advances in technology, including upgrading to new technologies and/or removing unnecessary NPS telecommunications infrastructure if needed.
While recognizing that national parks provide disconnected space for many visitors, the plan also proposes a strategy for commercial cellular and/or Internet access for public and NPS use in selected developed areas. Under the plan, commercial cellular and/or Internet infrastructure and coverage would only be considered in developed areas at Many Glacier, Rising Sun, Two Medicine, and Lake McDonald Lodge. Coverage would be restricted to these developed areas only.
The plan establishes conditions and parameters on the placement, size, amount, and type of commercial telecommunications infrastructure and equipment. Only commercial infrastructure with minimal visibility and impacts to park resources would be permitted, such as micro cell sites or wireless access points. Highly visible infrastructure would not be permitted under the plan, including large-scale towers. The plan would not permit commercial telecommunications infrastructure in recommended wilderness or in the park's Backcountry Zone as defined in Glacier's 1999 General Management Plan. The plan would require that signal spillover outside approved areas be minimized as much as technologically feasible, including in recommended wilderness and along park roadways.
Mary Riddle, 406-888-7898
Glacier National Park has prepared an environmental assessment (EA) for a proposed telecommunications plan. A telecommunications plan is needed to improve the effectiveness of mission-critical NPS telecommunications systems, enable a flexible response to changing communication needs and technology, and establish an appropriate strategy to enable cell and/or Internet connectivity in certain developed areas.