Effects of Noise
An Annotated Bibliography of the Effects of Noise on Wildlife can be found on the Additional Resources page.
Isolated areas are not exempt. In Grand Canyon, no single location is totally free of aircraft noise, and in some areas it can be heard up to 43 times in a 20-minute period. Backcountry hikers, after September 11, 2001, reported knowing that something was very wrong because there were no sounds from commercial aircraft (Bell et al. 2009). Tranquility, it turns out, even in the most remote areas of our national parks, is becoming increasingly scarce.
An Annotated Bibliography of the Effects of Noise on Visitor Experience and Soundscapes can be found on the Useful Resources page.
"And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air..."
These words tell a story about our country's fight for freedom and have a powerful effect on millions of Americans. The specific sounds associated with our history or cultural heritage not only teach us about the past, they connect us to distant times and places in a way that few other things can.
The acoustical environment of national park cultural and historic sites, therefore, is an important part of the setting and helps create meaningful connections. The silence of an empty cell on Alcatraz Island hints at the sense of isolation of a former inmate. Cannon fire, or Taps, at a Civil War battlefield conjures images of both pride and sadness. Every unit within the national park system has its own cultural soundscape that is both unique and appropriate to that particular place. From the brassy horns of New Orleans Jazz to hypnotic native drumming, no two are the same. Unwanted or inappropriate sounds, such as aircraft, vehicles, and construction equipment, can detract from the experience. With this in mind, the National Park Service manages park units to protect those cultural and historic sounds considered fundamental to the parks' purposes and mitigate extraneous noise.
Last updated: June 9, 2017