MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Silver Spring Township is considering an ordinance that would keep cell towers off the Appalachian Trail.
The township is working with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to create a “buffer zone” around the trail to ensure the natural settings are protected as more cell towers are built in central Pennsylvania.
“I, personally, am definitely on the side of preservation,” hiker Deb Duer said. “It’s nice that they’re out there, I think people have plenty of access to cell phones, so I don’t see why they would have to put them on the trail.”
Cell towers are becoming more common as a way to make cell phone use more convenient for customers and more safe for situations requiring emergency responders. Proponents of the new ordinance say it’s a way to balance those needs the desire to preserve the trail.
“For so long, people have been trying to get back to nature, get away from their busy lives, get away from their jobs,” Appalachian Trail Conservancy environmental planner Brooks Mountcastle said. “So when someone comes out on the AT, they really expect to have a natural experience. They don’t expect to have a lot of human disturbances.”
As alternative options, Mountcastle recommends putting cell towers near other cell towers, or on similar-looking structures.
“To the extent we can try to co-locate them on some other facility and take measures to protect the AT, it’s a win-win for everybody,” Mountcastle said.
Silver Spring Township supervisors plan to hold a series of public meetings, with a possible vote on the ordinance by the end of the summer.