One great thing about soundscapes is that with just one small change, you can make a dramatic difference. Imagine just talking a little quieter the next time you visit a national park. Then imagine all the other visitors doing the same. That alone can help to greatly improve a soundscape. After numerous noise complaints, researchers at Muir Woods National Monument asked visitors to be quieter (i.e., talk quietly, turn off cell phones) in one zone of the park (see image below). The result was amazing. The sound level in that zone decreased by 3 dBA, which equates to a reduction of approximately 1200 people (Stack et al., 2011). Remember, no people were actually limited from entering the zone, they were simply asked to be a little quieter. Now, just imagine what great things you can do to protect and improve soundscapes!
By taking steps to protect park soundscapes, we can hear and see more of our parks, including wildlife that might otherwise move away from noise sources. Here are a few simple steps for getting started. Many of these suggestions will help protect and improve the soundscape in your everyday life, outside of national park settings. You can also download a printable version (pdf 470KB) of the information below.