The National Park Service is moving ahead with an industry-sponsored initiative which would change the way many visitors experience national parks. This plan to significantly expand cellular and internet “connectivity” inside parks have advanced without public involvement.
The National Park Hospitality Association (NPHA), which represents park concessionaires, wants to dramatically hike visitor access to cell and internet signals inside parks – signals from the concessionaires, that is. According to NPHA records, Park Service leadership is working with concessionaires to –
- Channel internet access into all “visitor areas in the national park system” and “cell phone service at all major visitor areas in national park units, as well as along most roads and at major sites such as trailheads;”
- Churn out “park-focused information through smart phones, tablets and computers…to deliver interpretation to park visitors;” and
- Charge fees for services beyond free “landing pages,” with the money pocketed by concessionaires.
This stealth scheme to wire our national park system is going forward without any analysis of impacts or public input. It means more, ugly cell towers marring park vistas and “spill-over” coverage in wilderness and backcountry. It is also a giant step toward “Disney-fying” park interpretation, replacing rangers with corporate icons as your guides.
Parks should remain unplugged from the modern world. Experiencing the wonders of nature should not require a smartphone. Read more here.