The National Park Service is looking into their current ability to enhance
telecommunications services within developed areas of Grand Canyon National Park.
That is a good thing. However, the problem the NPS is facing is how to make those
improvements without detracting from the natural allure of the Grand Canyon. That,
after all, is what draws millions of visitors to the park each year.
The Grand Canyon is celebrating its centennial. That is a long time and with all the
advancements that were made within the past few decades, it is hard to imagine what
the Grand Canyon has seen since it became a National Park.
However, it is technological advancements, specifically that have caused officials to
have to field visitor complaints about limited cellphone and data services. Additionally, it
has come to the attention of the NPS that more bandwidth is needed to continue
operating smoothly. Thus, officials asked for public comment on the proposal.
The proposal indicates that approval would result in the NPS erecting up to five
telecommunications towers. Plus, the installation of cellular nodes and fiber optic cables
would take place along developed and popular portions of the North and South rims.
The proposal explains that the existing telecommunications infrastructure would either
be removed or relocated, depending on the need.
Elly Boerke, an environmental protection specialist with NPS, said this in a statement:
“We know we have a pretty valuable scenic resource here at Grand Canyon. That is the
main reason why people are here. And so, we are trying to be really sensitive to that as
we develop the proposed action and develop the environmental assessment.”
Public comments and even proposals were accepted until August 11, 2019. This
acceptance followed informational meetings throughout July and the beginning of
August, that took place in the Shrine of the Ages Auditorium at Grand Canyon Village
and through a webinar.
Now that the public Grand Canyon National Park is shutting down a lot of the park for
the winter, an environmental impact assessment will be conducted in conjunction with
state officials. Once that information is available officials promise that there will be more
informational and informed input opportunities for the public.
The NPS understands the delicate nature of this possible change and is sympathetic to
it. However, there are also safety, operational, and modern convenience concerns that
also must be addressed.