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The Wilderness Speaks. Are You Listening? (New NPS video)

September 26, 2013

The National Park Service is gearing up for next year’s 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act.  As part of their celebration, the NPS has just released this wonderful short video highlighting Olympic National Park and its compelling and varied soundscapes.  Fittingly, this production is built around Gordon Hempton’s sound archive; the park is his backyard, […]

NPS to study how soundscape quality affects park visitors

September 6, 2013

For over a decade, the National Park Service has been on the forefront of public lands agencies in addressing the role of sound and noise on both wildlife and park visitors.  NPS’s Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division has catalyzed baseline acoustic monitoring in seventeen parks, and carried out groundbreaking research on the effects of […]

NPS calls for sunrise/sunset no-fly times at Grand Canyon

February 3, 2011

The National Park Service has released its proposed air tour management rules for the Grand Canyon.  Key features of the plan include increased flight altitudes near North Rim overlooks, reducing flights in Marble Canyon, moving routes away from some key visitor use areas, and establishing an hour-long flight-free period for an hour after sunrise and […]

NPS concerned about noise impacts from shooting range near Walnut Canyon National Monument

November 3, 2010

In September, the Arizona Game and Fish Department released a noise study for a proposed shooting range on a site that lies 1-3 miles from the boundary of Walnut Canyon National Monument, east of Flagstaff. The results have spurred the Superintendent of Walnut Canyon to express concerns to the Game and Fish Department about the effects […]

Zion finalizes first NPS soundscape management plan

October 4, 2010

Zion National Park has become the first of its brethren to adopt a formal Soundscape Management Plan, the culmination of three years of work.  For the first time, soundscape measurement metrics that have been in development at the NPS Natural Sounds Program office in Ft. Collins, Colorado, will be driving forces in ongoing Park management […]

NPS research shows human noise limits animal listening area, alerting distance

March 15, 2010

A key research paper from National Park Service and Colorado State scientists has been published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution.  The paper, which got a lot of press when it was first made available online in the fall, introduces two key new metrics for measuring the effects of noise on animals.  The first, “alerting […]

NPS study: moderate noise can have major impacts on animals

December 13, 2009

An ongoing research project from the National Park Service Natural Sounds Program is about to publish a groundbreaking paper that outlines the many ways that even moderate increases in human background noise can create major impacts on animals.  The study proposes a new metric for use in bioacoustics research, the “effective listening area.”  This is the […]

Obama family visit grounds Grand Canyon air tours, as NPS forges ahead with new plan in wake of consensus group failure to agree

September 16, 2009

After eight years of struggling to bring conflicting interest groups together to support a consensus alternative for managing air tours at Grand Canyon National Park, an FAA-organized Grand Canyon Working Group has adjourned indefinitely.  The Working Group included NPS, FAA, tribal, environmental, and aviation industry representatives. At the Working Group’s last meeting, in late June, the GCWG […]

NPS Soundscape Studies in Yosemite and Beyond

June 27, 2009

Nice find of the day: A page on the Yosemite website describing the work they did over the past two summers to assess the soundscapes in the park. And that’s not all!  There’s also a link to a half-hour MP3 file/podcast featuring the NPS Natural Sounds Program’s lead scientist, Kurt Fristrup, talking about his studies […]

Finally, FAA is sued for resisting required air tour plans

October 17, 2017

After seventeen years of obstructionism, the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) is being sued for effectively ignoring a law requiring the development of air tour management plans (ATMPs) for National Parks. The National Park Air Tour Management Act of 2000 requires the FAA and National Park Service (NPS) to prepare an air tour plan for any park with […]

National Park air tours restricted at sunrise and sunset for first time

July 22, 2015

It’s not much, but it’s a start.  The troubled FAA/NPS collaborative planning process has completed an actual final plan to manage air tours at a national park.  But don’t get too excited: it’s not a full-on Air Tour Management Plan, as was the goal for all national parks with sightseeing flights when the two agencies […]

FAA spurns opportunity for quiet area protection in traffic pattern updates

June 30, 2015

A new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) effort to modernize air traffic flow around major cities is ignoring the chance to do slight re-routing that would minimize air traffic over dwindling areas of natural quiet.  The FAA is in the midst of a multi-year process to update the traffic patterns in and out of airports in 17 metropolitan areas.  Each “metroplex” […]

Yellowstone snowmobile plan finally getting off its merry-go-round?

March 5, 2013

It’s been a couple of years since we’ve checked in on the eternal Snowmobiles in Yellowstone debate, and in what’s sure to be a shock for those who’ve been following the issue since the Clinton administration, not much has changed!  During Team Obama’s first summer, Ken Salazar announced that the ongoing string of temporary winter […]

McCain, Reid succeed in quest to stop Grand Canyon overflight rules

July 2, 2012

I guess the third time was the charm for John McCain in his relentless quest to undermine the National Park Service’s decades-long effort to slightly reduce aircraft overflight impacts in the Grand Canyon backcountry.  Since the NPS released its draft plan several months ago, McCain had crafted amendments to a couple of pieces of legislation […]

Motorcycle noise in National Parks: take it slow

June 27, 2012

I just came across a fascinating piece on Oregon Public Radio’s EarthFix site, in which author Ashley Ahearn, a rider herself, discussed motorcycle noise in National Parks with Karen Trevino of the NPS Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division.   Trevino notes that most of the excessive noise on roads comes from bikes with aftermarket […]

Congressmen aim to derail Grand Canyon air tour rules

July 29, 2011

As regular readers will know, the National Park Service completed an epic planning process earlier this year when it released proposed rules governing air tours at Grand Canyon National Park.  After over two decades of discussion, including a failed attempt at coming to a consensus decision with all parties a few years back, NPS planners […]

Mt. Rainier air tour planning: a rare case of “not to late”

May 3, 2011

At most of the places where the National Park Service and FAA have commenced air tour management planning (ATMP), there is already a deeply entrenched local air tour economy, as well as a visitor expectation that they can take flight in order to see the beauty from above.  The Grand Canyon is of course the […]

Hawaii Volcanoes NP publishes draft air tour management alternatives

April 5, 2011

In what must be one of the slowest EIS processes on record, the National Park Service and the Federal Aviation Administration is moving…methodically…to develop a new air tour management plan (ATMP) for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  After being upgraded from an EA to an EIS in 2005, the joint planning process began work on the […]

McCain amendment aims to undercut Grand Canyon noise reduction plan

February 17, 2011

Senator John McCain has introduced legislation that would derail the National Park Service’s recently-released compromise plan to reduce noise levels in the Grand Canyon.  McCain’s initiative, apparently included in an amendment to another bill (details are sketchy so far, with nothing on McCain’s website so far), would declare that keeping half of Grand Canyon National […]

The sounds of silence at Great Sand Dunes National Park

January 27, 2011

Repost of a column by park staff, printed in the Valley Courier, the local paper in nearby Alamosa, Colorado: Have you ever heard the rustling sound of a bird’s wings flapping overhead…before you saw the bird? What about the sound of a rabbit chewing on a blade of grass? Most Americans don’t have the opportunity […]

Will Senate swallow McCain’s bait on last-minute Grand Canyon overflight intervention?

March 22, 2010

UPDATE 3/25: In response to a quick wave of outrage on editorial pages and some Park Service lobbying, Senator McCain has withdrawn his proposed amendment.  It remains to be seen whether he will let the NPS EIS process set the final rules, or seek to have the Senate write rules if the process lags or […]

Zion Nat’l Park begins soundscape planning process

March 9, 2010

Zion National Park is gearing up to begin incorporating soundscape planning into their management priorities.  Park Superintendent Jock Whitworth has announced two open houses in March on the topic, and public comments are being accepted until April 9 as part of an initial information-gathering stage.  This will inform the drafting of a Soundscape Management Plan […]

Special soundscape-focused issue of Park Science magazine

February 3, 2010

This came out in December, but I forgot to post about it then.  The National Park Service’s science magazine has published an entire issue devoted to the NPS’s soundscape studies and programs. Articles include: Measuring and monitoring soundscapes in the national parks Integrating soundscapes into NPS planning Conserving the wild life therein–Protecting park fauna from […]

Wyoming challenges 2-year Yellowstone snowmobile limits

November 23, 2009

As surely as winter follows autumn, Yellowstone National Park’s annual rite of tussling over snowmobile use has arrived just on time.  After issuing a proposed 2-year winter use plan in September, and opening its arms to receive a round of public comments that likely mimic those received during the previous three attempts to settle this […]

Denali Flight-seeing Guidelines End First Season

September 30, 2009

In April, a set of voluntary guidelines for air tours in Denali National Park was released, meant to minimize noise intrusions on backcountry hikers.  An Aircraft Overflights Advisory Council spent a bit over a year coming up with the proposals, which included asking pilots heading for the summit of Mt. McKinley/Denali to avoid two high-altitude […]