Noise, noise noise

Helicopter tours drown the quietude of Glacier 

COLUMBIA FALLS, Mont. – Commercial air tours are banned over just one national park in the western United States, and that’s Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Congress enacted the ban in 1998 in response to a push by the League of Women Voters in nearby Estes Park.

But in Montana, there’s still plenty of whoof-whoof-whoof over Glacier National Park during the peak season, reports the Hungry Horse News. A 1998 plan for Glacier called for a “phase-out of commercial” air tours over the park but it was never implemented. In fact, the numbers have increased, to 500 per month in summer.

The National Parks Conservation Association, the Sierra Club, and other groups are calling for an end to the “incessant noise pollution” produced by the helicopters.

One helicopter tour operator tells the newspaper he’s heard it all before and is unimpressed. “When they ban Harleys (motorcycles), then I’ll talk to them,” said Jim Kruger. “Fifteen seconds after I’m gone, you’ll never know I’m there.” Motorcycles, he added, deliver almost constant noise.

For a bit of peace & quiet, go to Nevada

VAIL, Colo. – Too much racket to hear yourself think? Don’t go to Vail for relief. There’s an interstate highway that roars through town. But don’t go to the Everglades, either. Where there’s water, there tends to be noise. Ditto trees and other vegetation, when the wind blows.

Instead, go to Nevada, which has little water, little vegetation, and few people, making it the quietest of states, according to research by the National Park Service, followed by Wyoming. But Utah’s slickrock country also ranks among the quietest places on Earth, points out the Vail Daily.

Music volume and what triggers the complaints

TELLURIDE, Colo. – One company will be in Telluride to hear the four big music festivals to be held there this summer—not necessarily to hear the music, but rather to see how loud it gets and create a baseline for evaluating sound in future years.

The town has four major music festivals, including Bluegrass, which is now in its 43rd year.

The Telluride Daily Planet reports that the town council approved hiring an acoustic consultant to monitor the volumes because of complaints in past years.

But higher volumes, as measured in decibels, don’t necessarily correlate with the most complaints. Bluegrass festival director Craig Ferguson said that one band’s performance registered 106 decibels with few complaints, but another band’s music triggered several calls, despite topping out at only 103 decibels. Describing sound with a machine is somewhat treacherous,” he said in written comments.


About Allen Best

Allen Best is a Colorado-based journalist. He publishes a subscription-based e-zine called Mountain Town News, portions of which are published on the website of the same name, and also writes for a variety of newspapers and magazines.
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One Response to Noise, noise noise

  1. It is true that motorcycles are almost always making noise. I can see why this would be a concern for the environment. Are motorcycles ever banned because they are so disruptive to what is around them? Thank you for an interesting article and for all of your helpful information!

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