Glacier National Park will begin a vehicle noise project along the Going-to-the-Sun Road this month in an effort to reduce vehicle noise and preserve natural soundscapes in the park. Two roadside noise meters will be placed along the Sun Road to collect decibel level data. Driver education and outreach efforts will also take place.
The meters will be placed near the St. Mary and West Glacier entrance stations. Additionally, information about how to minimize noise impacts from vehicles will be available at park visitor centers. The project is anticipated to continue through mid-August and is part of the Going-to-the-Sun Road Corridor Management Plan development process.
Park spokesperson Denise Germann said natural sound is an important natural and cultural resource the National Park Service is mandated to protect. Maintaining natural soundscapes is critical for the preservation of wildlife habitat, wilderness character, and cultural heritage, Germann said. Wildlife use natural sounds to establish territory, find mates, protect young, and communicate.
Vehicle noise disturbance is a common complaint from Glacier National Park visitors, as many people seek solitude and quiet experiences in the park’s backcountry, according to park officials. Numerous comments regarding noise disturbance were received during the Going-to-the-Sun Road Corridor Management Plan public meetings last year.
The study will address noise from a variety of sources including park operations, construction, maintenance and transportation. While all vehicles and visitors contribute to increased noise, low-frequency sound from motorcycles travels further than typical passenger cars and trucks. Noise modeling at the park has shown that some motorcycle noise reaches far into the backcountry in a number of locations along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. A brochure will be provided to motorcycle users with suggestions on how to ride respectfully through national parks.
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