Natural Soundscape Impacts

Waterfall, NPS photo, R. WasemCommon Loon, Chris Peterson photoMotorcyle driving past Weeping Wall, NPS photo, D. Restivo

Although humans often rely on our sight to make initial connections to the natural world, sounds help us to experience what we are unable to see. From the call of the loon to the roar of a waterfall, sounds are part of the overall experience for visitors to Glacier National Park.

The term, “soundscape,” refers to the entire acoustical environment of an area and includes both natural and human created sounds. The soundscape within each national park represents an important part of the park environment. The National Park Service recognizes that soundscapes are a resource and are afforded protection under the Organic Act. As visitation within national parks increases, the effects from noise have the potential to impact not only the well-being of humans, but the wildlife that inhabit the park as well. Research has found that wildlife can suffer adverse physiological and behavioral changes from noise in addition to other human activities.

Noise measurement studies have established baseline ambient noise levels for Glacier National Park that can be used to establish a foundation from which potential noise impacts can be assessed.