The National Park Service (NPS) said it’s completed the environmental review to consider cellular sites and fiber optic connectivity within Bryce Canyon National Park and yesterday ruled in favor of allowing a site. The NPS signed a Finding of No Significant Impact for the Cellular Telecommunications Tower with Power and Fiber Optic Connection Environmental Assessment (EA). The EA is based on a proposal to issue right-of-way permits to Verizon Wireless, South Central Utah Telephone Association and Garkane Energy Cooperative to install a 60-foot cell tower, fiber optic utility and electric utility right-of-way near the Science Hill area within the park.
The new telecommunications infrastructure, according to the NPS, would provide better cell service to park visitors and staff in developed areas of Bryce Canyon National Park.
In July 2015, Verizon Wireless submitted an application to install a cell tower near the Science Hill area to improve cell service. Following that request, the NPS initiated an environmental assessment to consider the impacts and sought input from the public, Garfield County, partners and affiliated tribes to understand their concerns. NPS incorporated their feedback in a thorough environmental review.
Construction of the cell tower, fiber optic utility and electric utility will not begin until the right-of-way permits are finalized. The next step will be to complete an appraisal to determine the annual use and occupancy fee Verizon would be required to pay to the NPS, which can take up to six months.
Once that is complete and construction begins, it will take roughly 90 days to install the new infrastructure. The tower will be built near existing infrastructure including water tanks and NPS radio towers, and will be directed away from recommended wilderness areas to minimize new cellular signals in that area of the park.