JACKSON, Wyo. - The National Park Service received a dozen letters opposed to the construction of a cellular phone tower in Grand Teton National Park.
All of the written comments oppose a proposal by UbiquiTel Inc. to install a 110- to 130-foot metal, tower, up to six antennas and a 2-foot microwave dish at Moose.
Most opponents said increasing cellphone service would detract from the park's natural setting.
Torsten Hasselmann of Jackson wrote that building the tower would be akin to installing television sets along the popular hiking trail at Jenny Lake.
Moreover, park visitors should not expect great cellphone service in a national park, Hasselmann wrote.
"Poor wireless coverage in Grand Teton National Park should be a trait of national parks, not a drawback, so please do not allow another injection of private interest into our increasingly corrupted public land and air," he wrote.
"Improving wireless coverage will only harm our wild places both physically, as our skylines become more urban, and also philosophically if we let more of the outside world follow visitors into the wild thanks to increased wireless coverage."
Likewise, Jackson resident Belinda Gunn wrote: "By allowing the tower, the park just becomes another place to do business instead of remaining the wild place it should be."
Both Grand Teton and the Bridger-Teton National Forest are facing an onslaught of applications from cellphone companies proposing towers on public lands.
Bridger-Teton resource assistant Kristi VonKrosigk estimated requests to the forest have doubled in the past few years.
Both forest and park officials say the increase in requests is due, in large part, to a transition from analog to digital service. While towers for analog service have a range of about 40 miles, digital towers cover only 10 to 12 miles, said Teton park spokeswoman Joan Anzelmo.
The Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance is particularly concerned that the switch to digital service will require building a lot more towers, said alliance program director Pam Lichtman.
"Do we want to approve something that could lead to blanketing the park with cell towers?" Lichtman asked.
However, park and forest officials have little latitude to reject cellphone tower requests. Congress passed a law in 1998 that requires federal agencies to provide access for telecommunications wherever possible unless there is a conflict with the land or mission of the agency, Anzelmo said.
Teton park officials have not made a decision on UbiquiTels request, Anzelmo said.
The public comment deadline on the proposal ended April 30.