The roadside noise meter display is on loan from the National Park Service’s (NPS) Natural Sounds Program office and will be situated at various locations throughout the park for the rest of the summer. As motorists travel past the sign, it displays the approximate sound level of the vehicle on a spectrum from green, to yellow, to red for the loudest vehicles. The goal of the display is to make visitors aware of the impacts of vehicular noise on park resources and other visitors.
In conjunction with the noise meter, the park is also undertaking education and awareness efforts in visitor centers and entrance stations. Around 200 visitors chatted with staff from the Natural Sounds Program at the park’s Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center during the past weekend. Additionally, a new brochure that highlights the importance of natural soundscapes in Grand Teton and provides some tips for making a difference is now available in visitor centers. Motorcyclists entering the park will also receive an information card encouraging them to “ride respectfully.”
The NPS hopes to reach motorcycle riders in particular with this information. Riding a motorcycle through Grand Teton is an exciting way to experience the park’s scenic beauty. However, low-frequency sound— like that from some motorcycles—travels farther and can have greater harmful effects on wildlife and park resources than typical passenger cars and trucks. Not all motorcycles are loud, but all riders can be part of the solution by taking actions to minimize their own noise levels. The following tips are easy ways motorcyclists can enjoy their visit while riding respectfully through the park:
• Operate motorcycles as quietly as possible to minimize disturbance
• Obey speed limits and avoid excessive acceleration or revving of the engine
• Avoid traveling in large groups and turn engines off instead of idling
• Use horns only when necessary for safety and turn down radios or use a headset
• Be sensitive when riding near wildlife, campgrounds, lodging, and visitor centers
Just like fresh air and clean water, natural sound is an important resource that the NPS works to protect. Natural soundscapes provide opportunities to experience the serene beauty of nature. They are also essential for wildlife that use natural sounds to establish territory, find mates, nurture and protect young, and find predators or prey. More information can be found at www.nature.nps.gov/sound_night.