Glacier National Park officials study noise


KALISPELL, Mont. - Glacier National Park officials are studying just how much noise travelers make on the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

"Over the years we've received a lot of feedback indicating that noise is an issue sometimes for visitors as it can be, especially in parks that get a lot of visitation," said Glacier National Park Public Affairs Assistant Sarah Grieb.

Park workers set up two devices that measure decibels. As you drive by the device, a small microphone measures how much noise your vehicle makes. Some can be quiet, others make quite a bit of noise.

Park officials tell us that preserving the soundscape, or the natural sounds, in Glacier National Park is not just for visitors, it's also for the wildlife.

"As far as wildlife goes, noise can interrupt breeding patterns or other wildlife patterns that we want to make sure we protect," Grieb said.

We traveled the road to get a feel for how sound can travel throughout the park. We stopped at multiple pull-off spots and stood along the road to listen to the sounds.

Vehicles over 65 decibels seemed loud, and the ones we saw that went over that were mostly motorcycles measuring close to 75 or 80 decibels.

Any prolonged exposure to sound over 85 decibels can cause hearing loss.

Most cars we saw drive by were clocked in under 65 decibels, but some would be louder if they were driving fast.

While the park won't be making any changes until after the study is complete, for now park officials are telling visitors to be mindful of the noise they make.

"Be aware of your own sounds that you're producing and be aware, especially if there's wildlife nearby," Grieb said.