Yellowstone losing battle against cellphones In this Aug. 3, 2016 file photo, a herd of bison grazes in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park in Wyo. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File)
Yellowstone losing battle against cellphones
Lexile

Adventure seekers encounter untamed wilderness when they enter the backcountry of Yellowstone National Park. Howling wolves. Deadly grizzly bears. Steam-spewing geysers as seen nowhere else on earth.
 
Is it a refuge from ringing cellphones? Not so much anymore.
 
In the popularity contest between Yellowstone's natural wonders and on-demand phone service, park administrators appear to have lost ground on a 2009 pledge. That was to minimize cellphone access in backcountry areas.
 
Signal coverage maps for two of Yellowstone's five cellphone towers show calls can now be received in large swaths of Yellowstone's interior. These include the picturesque Lamar Valley and other areas. Until just recently, they were out of reach.
 
The maps were obtained by a Washington-based advocacy group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. For years, the group has fought against new telecommunications infrastructure in the first national park in the U.S.
 
Their release comes not long after lawmakers in the U.S. House introduced a bill. It would allow even more cellphone towers and similar structures on public lands across the nation.
 
Ken Sinay operates the Yellowstone Safari tour company. He has been running nature tours in the park's backcountry for two decades. He said phone signals became far more prevalent in many parts of the park over the past several years.
 
His customers typically arrive to get away from modern-day distractions. But some are unable to resist the lure of taking business calls. Or they are calling home to check on their dogs.
 
"It's a real drag at Artists Point," Sinay said. He was referring to a famous overlook near Yellowstone Falls. "While people are trying to enjoy themselves, somebody's on their phone waving their hands and gesturing. And walking around in a circle."
 
Yellowstone technology chief Bret De Young acknowledged the occurrence of "spillover" cellphone signals into backcountry areas. But he suggested the coverage maps - released by the park to Ruch's group under a public records request - exaggerated the quality of coverage in parts of the park.
 
In 2009, Yellowstone issued a wireless and telecommunications management plan. It said cellphone coverage "would not be promoted or available along park roads outside developed areas, or promoted or available in any of the backcountry."
 
"No cellphone service will be allowed in the vast majority of Yellowstone," park officials said in a statement issued when the plan was adopted.
 
PEER executive director Jeff Ruch said the park had failed to meet those goals and instead ceded its telecommunications program to companies that wanted to offer blanket coverage.
 
"The ability to disconnect, the serenity value of that, is a park resource that they've given away without a thought," Ruch said.
 
De Young said it is not the intent to cover backcountry areas. And the park is taking steps to limit cell service as much as possible to developed areas.
 
That's being done with the installation of new antennas that direct signals more precisely so cellphone services are limited mainly to the small communities and campgrounds in the park.
 
Two of the park's five cellphone towers now use those specially aimed antennas, and De Young said a third is due to be converted this fall.
 
A cellphone coverage map provided by the park shows that the signals extend beyond targeted areas but lose signal strength as the distance from the communities and campgrounds increases.
 
"This will allow the service providers to keep up with new phone technology while limiting unintentional coverage areas," De Young said.
 
The House legislation seeks to encourage even greater cellular and broadband coverage within national parks and other public lands. The measure from California U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman is known as the Public Lands Telecommunications Act.
 
It would impose rental fees on telecommunications companies with cell towers or other infrastructure on public lands. Money raised would be used by the U.S. Interior and Agriculture Departments to obtain additional communication sites and take other steps to foster greater coverage.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why do people walk in circles when talking on cellphones?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (67)
  • hlily-dav
    10/18/2016 - 04:51 p.m.

    In response to "Yellowstone losing battle against cellphones" I agree that cell service should be limited in Yellowstone National Park. One reason I believe cell service should be limited is people go to this park to relax and they can't do that with all the distractions cell phones have. In the article it says, "While people are trying to enjoy themselves, somebody's on their phone waving their hands and gesturing. And walking around in a circle," which is understandable. Another reason is that if these distractions are causing people not to go to Yellowstone, Yellowstone will lose business. If cell phones take away the calming atmosphere of Yellowstone,not a lot of people will want to go there anymore. A third reason is cell phones will distract many people so they won't be able to truly enjoy the thrilling experience Yellowstone offers. Going to Yellowstone is an adventure,and people won't be able to appreciate all the park has to offer is they are preoccupied by their cell phones. Although, it might be beneficial to be able to contact home, I think limited cell phone service is a good idea.

  • fmadison-dav
    10/20/2016 - 04:43 p.m.

    I think that it is good to take away cell phones in national parks because, one, cell phones distract people from our countries natural beauty. A second reason is that It distracts other people that are trying to look at natures beauty. It says in the paragraph that "While people are trying to enjoy themselves somebody's on their phone" A third reason I think this is that parks are meant to get away from all technology. Overall I think that people need to not be on their phones in a national park.

  • fpresley-dav
    10/20/2016 - 04:45 p.m.


    In response to "Yellowstone losing battle against cellphones," I agree that cell phones should not have signal and people should not use them. One reason I agree is that people just want to enjoy the beautiful nature. If all the cellphone lines are there it would ruin the beauty. If you are there and on your phone on a call you don't really want to be there. Another reason is that people go there to get away from there daily distractions and work life. It says in the article, "His customers typically arrive to get away from modern-day distractions." A third reason is that it just gets confusing trying to figure out where gets signal so, they just shouldn't have signal at all."A cellphone coverage map provided by the park shows that the signals extend beyond targeted areas but lose signal strength as the distance from the communities and campgrounds increases." Even though there may be a chance you get a very important call why you are at the park, I think that cellphone lines shouldn't have to be there.

  • tgracie-dav
    10/20/2016 - 07:02 p.m.

    In response to "Yellowstone losing battle against cellphones," I disagree that people shouldn't be allowed to have a ringing cell phone. One reason I disagree is that IF its an important call that people might need to answer it. Another reason is that some places wouldn't have cell phone service and it wouldn't be a problem. A third reason they might be doing a work trip and have to take a call. Even though people should get off there phones and enjoy the time, I think that people might need to make a call for an emergency.

  • dsarah-dav
    10/20/2016 - 08:19 p.m.

    I agree with Yellowstone's decision to make it hard to use cellphones in their park. The first reason why I support this decision is because it says in the article,"His customers typically arrive to get away from modern-day distractions. But some are unable to resist the lure of taking business calls. Or they are calling home to check on their dogs." The phones prevent people from focusing on the park's natural beauty and it also says that the loud talking or gestures are distracting to people who are trying to enjoy their time at the park. Another reason why I believe that Yelowstone made the right decision to create bad cell service is because of radiation. It is in cellular devices and can cause cancer. This is a good way to get away from the radiation. Although important things may be on someone's phone, I trust the park's decision to create bad cell service to prevent people from being on their phones.

  • mcaitlin-dav
    10/20/2016 - 08:48 p.m.

    In response to, "Yellowstone losing battle against cellphones," I agree that they shouldn't have as many cellphone towers. The first reason is, "His customers typically arrive to get away from modern distractions," the people coming to Yellowstone want to get away from the technology and cellphone towers don't help to keep them away from it.The second is,"While people are trying to enjoy themselves," the people are trying to enjoy coming there and not be on their phones 24/7. The last reason is, "But some are unable to resist the lure of taking business calls," some of the people can't go long without calls and without many cellphone towers they can't take those calls. Although less cellphone towers can help get away from the modern world, but some people do need to take some calls for work or to check on their dog.

  • bjoseph-dav
    10/20/2016 - 09:38 p.m.

    In response to "Yellowstone losing battle against cellphones," I agree that People should not use there phones in the Yellowstone national park, because it messes up the point of going to the wilderness. One reason I agree that it is not a good idea to have your cell phone at the national park is that it messes up the experience of going to the park. Another reason is that it can cause distress in the wildlife with all the noise. It says in the article Yellow stone losing battle against cell phones, par 13 (""The ability to disconnect, the serenity value of that, is a park resource that they've given away without a thought," Ruch said. This proves that other to believe that it messes up the experience. Evidence for that it disrupts nature. In "Yellow stone losing battle against cell phones". paragraph 4 it says. " It would allow even more cellphone towers and similar structures on public lands across the nation". which means the animals are forced to interact with electricity. A third reason is that it will impose an increase on taxes. Which will make people mad. Even though cellphones may pose a threat on national park, I think
    it could benefit social media.

  • willa-pel
    10/24/2016 - 12:00 p.m.

    People walk round in circles while on their phones because they aren't paying enough attention to know where they are going.

  • andrewp-pel
    10/24/2016 - 12:02 p.m.

    They are gesturing.

  • lilianad-pel
    10/24/2016 - 12:08 p.m.

    They walk in circles because the people might not have signal to call

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