Soundscape / Noise

Preston Park

Preston Park and Mt. Reynolds

J. A. Tyers photo

We live in a world of over-stimulation. Televisions and video games, noise from all manner of transportation conveyances, and a multitude of other sources blare at us with growing frequency and ever increasing decibel levels. Rest and relaxation is often thought of as sleep alone, rather than a respite from this onslaught.

For many people the antidote is the calming aspects of the sounds of the natural world. Natural soundscapes are made up of the aggregate of sounds from such sources as wind, water, insects, or birds. The soundscape can be very quiet or quite loud, as alongside a waterfall or in a thunder storm.

The value of this resource has become increasingly more important as it becomes threatened. Glacier National Park still retains much of its natural soundscape, but "noise" (defined as the unwanted intrusion of sound) is becoming ever more prevalent and, increasingly, recognized as a management concern. The type and amount of development around the periphery of Park will largely dictate the future condition of the soundscape. Increases in traffic and construction within the Park add to manmade noise and aircraft operations over and near the park are becoming a growing issue. Scenic helicopter rides that originate outside the park boundary intrude on the natural soundscape over a wide area, particularly affecting hikers and backpackers.

Soundscape management has become an important management issue at Glacier Park. Any significant degradation of the natural sound environment deprives park visitors of the chance to connect with and appreciate the natural scene. Opportunities for escape from the noise and from the hectic pace of modern life are becoming increasingly aware.

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