A trip into the wilds of Yellowstone National Park just got tamer. Hikers can now toss a cellular phone into their backpacks.
"What's next, cable?" asked a grubby
Los Angeles resident fresh in from a couple of nights in the
forest, where he spotted one of the park's fabled grizzly
Park officials say the benefits outweigh
the negatives. Under a permit worked out with Cody, Wyo.-based
Metacomm Communications, crews will install three cellular
transmitters inside park boundaries. In exchange for the permit,
the 2.2 million-acre park gets $500 annually plus 70 phones and
5,000 free minutes a month. If a disaster like the fires of 1988
hits, unlimited phone service is provided
Assistant park superintendent Marv Jensen
said the park is abiding by the Telecommunications Act of 1996,
which requires federal land managers to allow commercial cellular
facilities where it is appropriate.
hikers') choice whether they decide to take a cellular phone, and
therefore intrude on their wilderness experience," said Jensen.
"It's not going to affect anyone else."
said the transmitters will have no environmental effect because
they'll be installed on existing antennae at Old Faithful, Grant
Village and on top of Mount Washburn, one of the park's tallest