noise in national parks and thus recognizes the need to provide park managers with guidance for protecting the natural soundscape from such noise. Therefore, the focus of the workshop was to define what park managers can do to control noise from facilities, operations, and maintenance, and not on issues such as the effects of noise on wildlife, noise metrics, and related topics.

To aid in this effort, NPS joined with the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and with the US Department of Transportation’s John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center to hold a workshop to examine the challenges and opportunities facing the nation’s array of parks. Entitled “Protecting National Park Soundscapes: Best Available Technologies and Practices for Reducing Park-Generated Noise,” the workshop took place October 3–4, 2012, at NPS’s Natural Resource Program Center in Fort Collins, Colorado.


The workshop grew in part from a 2010 NAE report, Technology for a Quieter America, which concluded that “reducing the noise levels to which Americans are exposed will require cooperation among engineers, industrial management, and government in many disciplines, and it will not be accomplished in a short time. Nevertheless, reduced noise levels will contribute to improved quality of life for many Americans.”

The report made many observations and recommendations that relate to issues of concern to the Park Service, said George Maling, chair of the authoring committee, who briefly summarized the report’s conclusions at the workshop. It did not recommend a single noise metric for quiet areas such as parks, but carefully examined the need for metrics and their uses. It also investigated issues relating to occupational noise, hazardous noise, low-noise-emission products, and the role of government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in regulating noise levels. Maling noted that several follow-on activities have occurred since the release of the report, including a workshop on motorcycle noise.

At about the same time the report came out, NPS was conducting a survey of park superintendents about noise and other issues. The survey results revealed problems with excessive noise in national parks and served as an additional impetus for this workshop, which sought to examine noise in national parks that can be controlled by the Park Service itself, review the issues raised in Technology for a Quieter America, and apply that report’s relevant recommendations to the parks.

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