Mount Rainier National Park considers installing cell towers in Paradise visitors center
MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK, Wash. - The Paradise area of Mount Rainier National Park is a popular tourist spot, but still secluded from the rest of the world, at least for now.
"It's just so beautiful out there, there are these raw, wild, untouched spaces you can get out into and really connect with nature," said Seattle resident Meghan Young.
But, the park is considering a proposal from Verizon and T-Mobile to install cell phone antennas hidden inside the visitor's center.
"I was completely aghast," said Young. "All I could think was going up there and seeing kids on their iPads and people just staring at their phones and missing everything that's going on around them with these towering mountains. It made me really sad, honestly."
Young was one of a record 480 people who responded for public comment. The park said opinions were impassioned and mixed.
The park service will now go through the comments and look for things they didn't consider, then include those findings in a new report.
"It's so amazing to let all of that go and just be a lot more present," said Young. "Really to enjoy these incredible spaces that people fought to preserve for us."
Many believe better cell service could improve safety for rescues. But, others feel it's too much of a sacrifice in the wilderness.
"There's something about that screen that really gets in the way of what's going on right here," said Young.
Park officials said they hope to be finished with that new report by the end of January when a new 30-day public comment period will begin.
The regional director will have the final decision.