Friday, March 19, 2004 | 9:44 a.m.
The plight of two separate families, their boats disabled and stuck on Boulder Island at dusk one day last fall, illustrates the need for improved cell phone service at Lake Mead, a National Park Service spokeswoman said.
The boaters lost radio contact when their boats became disabled, Park Service spokeswoman Roxanne Dey said.
Both families were rescued by Park Service rangers after another boater with a cell phone discovered them and called for help.
The Park Service is asking the public to comment on a proposal to build a fourth telecommunications facility within the Boulder Beach developed area.
Wireless Facilities, Inc., on behalf of Cingular Wireless, has submitted a proposal to build the facility.
Improved cell phone access at the lake is important, Dey said, because the recreation area is vast, 1.5 million acres. That's twice the size of the state of Rhode Island.
"Eventually, we will have full cellular coverage on the lake," Dey said.
First, however, the park service has to conduct an environmental assessment on the issue.
Three telecommunications sites exist within the recreation area. They are located in the Boulder Basin near the Southern Nevada Water System's surge tank site, at the Callville Bay developed area and at the Overton Beach developed area.
The public may comment until April 15 on the project.
Written comments should be sent to: Superintendent, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Attention: Compliance Office, 601 Nevada Way, Boulder City, Nev., 89005.