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Park Service Wants To Know If Cell Service Belongs At Mount Rainier

Rachel La Corte
AP Photo
Mount Rainier is seen from the road to Paradise Visitor Center at Mount Rainier National Park.

The National Park Service is asking the public to weigh inon whether it should allow cell service providers to set up in Mount Rainier National Park.

The proposal would allow providers to set up equipment in a building in a developed part of the park. Coverage would be limited to the area immediately surrounding it.

When the park service first floated the idea last fall, comments were split about half in favor and half opposed.

"Some folks think it's obvious that you would want to have it for safety's sake," said deputy park superintendent Tracy Swartout.

But other people worry that it could open the door to park goers who use technology "in a way that becomes intrusive," Swartout said. Those opposed also worry that the added safety net could cause people to be more reckless.

The proposal has been through an environmental assessment, which the public can comment on at thepark service website.

These comments are more formal than the scoping the park service did earlier.

"Perhaps there are parts of the argument that we haven't considered," Swartout said. "We want to evaluate it fully, get a sense of what the public feels, and then also look at our own needs."

Public comment is open until July 19. Swartout says a decision could be made as early as this fall.

A Seattle native and former KNKX intern, Simone Alicea spent four years as a producer and reporter at KNKX. She earned her Bachelor's of Journalism from Northwestern University and covered breaking news for the Chicago Sun-Times. During her undergraduate career, she spent time in Cape Town, South Africa, covering metro news for the Cape Times.