A much-needed communications upgrade at Glacier National Park has gone through a successful environmental impact statement. The Regional Director for the National Park Service (NPS) has found No Significant Impact for the plan, which will allow better communication between the various management areas of the popular tourist hotspot.

The park staff has had problems with the aging telecommunications system as the park has become increasingly popular, especially in the last few years. The National Park Service plan would remove some older facilities and replace them with more up-to-date equipment. New towers and possibly permanent radio repeaters (with 20-foot masts) will be installed as the project develops.

Most of the work will help park staff get in touch with each other in areas that are currently outside the radio reach. There will be work on the phone system, internet access, digital video security systems, utility alarms and backup radio systems. Many areas have already been developed and will simply be upgraded. There are new radio repeater sites planned with radio antenna and microwave dishes. Solar panels will also be installed in some sites. The system will only be National Park Service access.

According to the NPS news release, the plan will allow commercial public cellular and internet access, including infrastructure and coverage only at Many Glacier, Rising Sun, Two Medicine and Lake McDonald Lodge developed areas, but only after a site-specific review is conducted by NPS.

Also, special care will be taken in the existing and recommended wilderness areas of the park, with no commercial telecommunications infrastructure allowed. That includes the park's Backcountry Zone, designated in the 1999 General Management Plan.

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