“We’ve been spreading the gospel of natural sounds and trying to reduce noise,” said Bert Frost, associate director for the NPS Natural Resource Stewardship and Science Directorate, “but we haven’t had those conversations internally.” The Park Service needs to “lead by example,” added Frost. If it does, it will have a much stronger case in asking others to do the same in the areas it protects and conserves.


After the plenary presentations, the workshop participants divided into breakout groups focused on transportation, facilities and maintenance, and construction. Box 1-1 presents the general guidance provided to the three groups.

Chapters 3, 4, and 5 convey the reports from representatives of the breakout groups in the final plenary session. These reports should not be interpreted as recommendations of the workshop or of the breakout groups.


Several major themes emerged from the presentations in the initial plenary session and from the reports of the breakout groups. These themes are presented not as conclusions or recommendations but as organizing principles for future discussions and follow-up.

Themes from Plenary Presentations

  • The Park Service has a mandate to protect the acoustic environment and specific policies designed to implement that mandate.
  • Many sources of noise in parks originate in park operations, maintenance, and construction.
  • Population growth and increased traffic are expected to increase noise in and around parks.
  • Noise has substantial effects both on wildlife and on human visitors to parks.
  • Every park is unique and needs to adapt policies to its own situation.

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