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Environmental Assessment on Telecommunication and Weather Monitoring Improvements Available for Public Comment

Posted: May 9, 2013

Denali National Park and Preserve News Release

Release Date: May 9, 2013

Contact:  Kris Fister, kris_fister@nps.gov907-683-9583

 

Environmental Assessment on Telecommunication and Weather Monitoring Improvements Available for Public Comment

DENALI PARK, Alaska:  The National Park Service (NPS) is considering actions to establish or upgrade telecommunications systems at several locations in Denali National Park and Preserve (DENA) and to locate new weather stations in the park.  New telecommunication and weather installations are needed to improve operations for visitor services, resource management, research, education, park administration, and facilities maintenance. If approved, this project would take place during the summer of 2013.

The NPS has had telecommunication facilities at some locations in the park for decades. The testing of possible sites to locate remote repeaters has led to a plan that would improve coverage for the park radio system and the in-park internet and voice connections. The improvements are needed because radio communication is not reliable in several locations along the Denali Park Road, and staff at remote locations in the park need secure access to the internet in order to utilize the web-based programs required to do their work.

Attempts to install weather stations on Mt. McKinley over the past 20 years have had limited success, as the instruments have never survived the cold, ice, and winds. The NPS has had temporary weather stations on Mt. McKinley during the climbing season, and new technology now makes it possible to locate year-round monitoring equipment on the mountain. The new weather stations are needed on Mt. McKinley and in the Toklat basin to improve the park’s climate change monitoring.

The Environmental Assessment evaluates two action alternatives. The preferred alternative would keep the microwave wireless repeater sites located  in wilderness that have been previously tested for use, while moving repeater equipment out of the historic Herning Cabin to a nearby site on the Mt. Eielson bench. This alternative would also authorize fixed weather stations at 16,200 feet and 17,200 feet on Mt. McKinley.  The other action alternative would move the Herning Cabin equipment to a peak west of the Muldrow Glacier and would only authorize one weather station on Mt. McKinley. Both alternatives would authorize a new weather station to be placed in the Toklat Basin north of the Old Park boundary.

The NPS has published an environmental assessment (EA) for this project entitled “Telecommunications and Weather Monitoring Improvements.” It is available at the NPS planning website at http://parkplanning.nps.gov. The EA analyzes the impacts of the “No Action” alternative and two action alternatives. It was completed in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and the regulations of the Council on Environmental Quality (40 CFR 1508.9).

Comments on the EA may be submitted through June 8, 2013, preferably via the web site at http://parkplanning.nps.gov. Comments may also be mailed to Superintendent, Attn: Telecom EA, Denali National Park and Preserve, P.O. Box 9, Denali Park, AK 99755 or faxed to 907-683-9612. For questions or paper copies of the EA, please contact Steve Carwile at 907-644-3612 or steve_carwile@nps.gov.

 

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