By B.N. Frank
Yellowstone National Park asked for public comments about this last year. Apparently opposition, science, and warnings didn’t matter.
500 New Antennas Slated for Yellowstone: Trees Chainsawed
Formerly Off-Limits Historic Buildings to Be Flooded with Wi-Fi
Sources are from PEER’s press releases.
A company called AccessParks wants to install 484 antennas within and atop historic lodges (including the iconic Old Faithful Inn), visitor centers, and other buildings to bring broadband throughout most of the park’s developed areas. The plan also entails 39 large antennas and 12 new microwave dishes. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) points out that “While the company’s website declares “Retain Nature’s Beauty: Cell towers are ugly, and cellular wireless is useless for Broadband,” the plan would not replace any cell towers but would add hundreds of antennas, including a 6-foot diameter antenna on an existing microwave tower at Old Faithful.”
100 Trees Already Removed
PEER’s June 9, 2020 press release details that “one notable aspect of the lead-up to this proposal was the August 2019 removal of 100 trees, in a stand approximately 30 years old located in recommended wilderness, because they reduced signal strength from a passive reflector.”
“Chain-sawing trees to improve wireless reception seems to clash with the very concept of what national parks are for,” stated Pacific PEER Director Jeff Ruch pointing to growing adverse effects on park viewsheds, already marred by electronic clutter. “As the telecom footprint spreads, Yellowstone’s scenery is condemned to death by a thousand antennas and microwave dishes.”
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility Releases
- Jun 9, 2020, Yellowstone Wi-Fi Plan Driven by Corporate Wishes
- Nov 27, 2019 More Than 500 New Antennas Slated for Yellowstone
- Apr 8, 2019 Grand Teton Cell Mega-expansion Violates Law and Policy
Devra Davis PHD of Environmental Health Trust has long worked to present the impacts posed to wildlife to decision makers in the park system and wrote David Vela, now acting director of the United States National Park Service a letter in April 2019 when he was superintendent of Grand Teton National Park, “We would like to make you aware that there is growing literature showing the adverse impacts of microwave radiation on animal and bird behavior and physiology, as well as plants and trees.” (Read Letter HERE)
Davis published a letter to the editor in the Jackson Hole News & Guide (June 17, 2020), “Yes, placing antennas under roofs and attics can keep them from public view, but this will not keep the bees, birds, plants and mitigating animals from unbalancing wireless radiation to which they have never before been exposed. Nor will it protect the employees living in dormitories just below these radiating rooftops. What you can’t see can not only make you sick, it can sometimes kill you, especially if you are an insect, bird or plant. The disruptive nature and occasional lethality of wireless radiation has best been demonstrated in lower animals and plants, as the 13 page thoroughly-referenced letter EHT sent to the NPS last year detailed. More recent studies have noted that all migrating animals rely on a cryptochrome–a tiny protein located behind the eye–to sense the earth’s magnetic field.
“Superintendent Vela’s disregard of policies designed to protect park values and resources does not bode well for his taking the helm of the entire National Park Service. Without serious consideration, Grand Teton is throwing park values of untrammeled scenery, natural soundscape, and the serenity of solitude out the window,” stated PEER Executive Director Tim Whitehouse in a April 2019 Press Release.
“It will not be hard to place 5G in the park once these are installed. Yellowstone highlights the industry’s dirty little secret. There are no regulatory limits developed to protect birds, bees and birds from wireless radiation. The EPA recently wrote to us confirming this egregious state of affairs. Compliance with FCC limits is meaningless when it comes to wildlife and the environment. The EPA clarified that the EPA does not have a funded mandate for radiofrequency matters and is “not aware of any EPA reviews” that have been conducted on the topic of birds, bees and trees. Birds will roost and nest on antenna sites. Bees and trees will be close to the wireless transmissions. Yet no US Agency has ever evaluated the effects to wildlife, nor do any safety standards exist for birds, bees and trees,” stated Theodora Scarato, Exceutive Director of Environmental Health Trust. 5G is already installed in Mt Everest. Yes, China Mobile and Huawei have managed to install three 5G antennas at Base Camp (5,300m) and at 5,800m. Yaks and porters carried more than eight tonnes of equipment, and “dozens” of technicians from the telecom giants fixed the antennas in place. (Read EPA letter to Scarato HERE.)
Sierra Magazine has published two articles on the issue.
Sierra Magazine, “Wi-Fi in the Wilderness: The National Park Service is racing to expand cellphone service at parks nationwide. Do we really want a connected wild?” by Christpher Ketchum
- “These plans are by the telecoms, for the telecoms, of the telecom. A national park is supposed to facilitate the public’s ability to enjoy the natural world and be able to escape the electronic tendrils of civilization. To commune with nature. To unplug. The Park Service is doing the very opposite. It’s wiring the wilderness.” quoting PEER Director Jeff Ruch.
Sierra Magazine, “Let’s Keep Some Digital Blank Spaces on the Map: In an age of digital enclosure, the wilderness should remain free from connectivity” by Jason Mark
- “It’s true that you can always leave your phone at the trailhead; or, if you use your device for the maps, the compass, or the camera, you can leave it in airplane mode. But the temptation to search for a signal will still be there. Which is precisely why the conservation movement should commit to defending wildlands from high-tech connectivity.”
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility Information
Jun 9, 2020, Yellowstone Wi-Fi Plan Driven by Corporate Wishes
Nov 27, 2019 More Than 500 New Antennas Slated for Yellowstone
- Read the PEER comments
- View Yellowstone’s press release
- See cell coverage swamping Yellowstone backcountry
- Revisit Yellowstone’s history of broken promises to limit coverage
- Look at telecommunications bunker on Mt. Washburn
- Comment on the AccessParks plan
- View the AccessParks proposal
- See Yellowstone’s reversal on Wi-Fi-free zones in historic buildings
- Look at spread of cell towers across national parks
Interested in the effects on wildlife and the environment? EHT submitted letters regarding proposals in parks.
So much for protecting nature in American national parks…
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