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Comment on Yellowstone Cell Tower

Improved cell phone coverage and cellular data services inside Yellowstone National Park is essential for the safety and accessibility of all park visitors. This is especially true in the heavily used Yellowstone Lake Area, Fishing Bridge, and Grant Village Area. The National Park Service has extended the public comment period on a proposal by Verizon Wireless to construct a cellphone tower in Yellowstone National Park until Dec. 17th.

The proposed cell tower would serve the Lake and Fishing Bridge areas of Yellowstone. The 100-foot tall tower and accompanying ground facilities would be erected at an existing utility site, next to existing telephone and electric lines. The Yellowstone Lake area is the only location in the park where construction of a new cell tower is permitted under the park’s management plan.

If the permit is approved, construction would begin in early 2013.

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Over 300,000 Lake Trout Destroyed

More than 300,000 lake trout were caught in Yellowstone Lake and killed this year, a record for fisheries managers trying to suppress the invasive trout species. The netting has been going on since 2000 as part of an effort to restore decimated populations of native cutthroat trout in Yellowstone national park’s largest lake.

The big lakers, also known as mackinaw, have outcompeted and eaten the native cutthroats since they were illegally introduced into Yellowstone Lake. The culling operation is finally reaching kill levels necessary to effectively suppress the ecologically damaging lake trout population, estimated at about 500,000 adult fish. Approximately 224,000 lakers were netted in 2011, but the total kill for the decade before was just 500,000.

One reason for the increase in netted lake trout is the use of tracking telemetry transmitters to find out where the fish were spawning and where they’re congregating. The kill was also successful this year because fishermen fished as long as they could, netting the 139-square-mile lake from just after the ice melted until last week, Hottle said. In 2011, Yellowstone contractors netted the lake for 17 weeks, but the season spanned just 10 weeks in 2010 and three weeks in 2009.

Cutthroat trout are considered a keystone species in the Yellowstone Lake ecosystem. They historically ran up 60 feeder streams by the thousands each spring to spawn. The spawn made them an easy catch for predators, and cut-throat were once an important food source for grizzly bears, bald eagles, ospreys and river otters.


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