June 9, 2000
This is in response to your letter to John Reynolds, Regional
Director, Pacific West
Region, dated May 23, 2000, regarding the removal of the telephone booth on Cima
Dome in Mojave National Preserve. The phone booth was the property of, and
ultimately removed by, Pacific Bell; not the National Park Service.
The telephone booth (with associated lines and poles)
was the private property of
Pacific Bell. The right-of-way for the telephone booth and associated transmission
line expired in 1992 and Pacific Bell indicated no interest in renewal and did not
request a renewal. New technologies have replaced the need for the telephone.
Under the terms of the right-of-way, without a valid agreement Pacific Bell was
obligated to remove their private property and restore the right-of-way to
We understand the uniqueness of this phone booth; however,
once it gained
notoriety, it attracted numerous visitors and, unfortunately, not all visitors to the site
share your ethic. Not only has there been documented resources damage (fire
burning, large gatherings without permit, garbage scattered, vegetation damage and
posted graffiti), but private property owners have also been disturbed. In addition,
several truck loads of white decorative rocks were brought to the area by phone
visitors who then outlined messages in the desert.
Pacific Bell and the National Park Service received numerous
complaints from local
property owners. Since the phone gained notoriety, the increased traffic resulted in
vandalism, trespass, unattended campfires, stranded and lost visitors, and other
problems. These issues made it necessary for the National Park Service to increase
patrols to the area to ensure that visitors did not cause resource damage, exceed
their camping authorization, violate wilderness values and, as necessary, to provide
appropriate help and assistance.
The proliferation of trash required that our maintenance
worker, from Baker, CA,
conduct several clean-up drives in this area, all necessitated by visitor impacts.
In fact, a desert phone booth user, "Desert Chad," recently
documented, in a note
left at the booth, that the "place was a mess." He went on to say that he cleaned up
two bags of garbage, but did not have time to clear the fire pits. He pleaded with
other phone users not to "leave ANY garbage."
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and concerns regarding
the care of resources at
Mojave National Preserve.
Mary G. Martin
John J. Reynolds
Lee Johnson, Pacific Bell