November 1, 2006
Noise Free America
For immediate release
Madison: The National Park Service has won this month’s Noisy Dozen award from Noise Free America for reversing the Clinton-era ban on snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park. Because of the National Park Service’s action, there is truly no place to hide from the scourge of noise.
In its efforts to reintroduce snowmobiles in Yellowstone, the Bush administration is championing four-stroke engines as the “best available technology.” The Bush administration claims that four-stroke engines are quieter than the older two-stroke models.
However, the new four-stroke models are loud enough to cause hearing damage, according to internal Park Service documents obtained by the Coalition of Concerned Park Service Retirees. A Park Service officer, Brandon Gauthier, advised employees who drive four-stroke snowmobiles to wear earplugs because the machines are almost as loud as the two-stroke models, reaching an incredible noise level of 111 decibels during acceleration.
Bill Wade of the Coalition of Concerned Park Service employees commented, “It seems incongruous to us to have machines that require hearing protection in the country’s first national park, which should be a flagship for natural preservation and natural quiet. The presence of this kind of noise contradicts the very values of the park. These machines have no place in Yellowstone.”
Indeed, the National Park Service extols the virtues of “natural quiet” and “natural soundscapes” as a resource to be protected in national parks. It states: “The natural soundscape is a component of any park setting that is intended to be managed or appreciated as natural, such as wilderness areas. Sounds made by wind, birds, geysers, elk, wolves, waterfalls, and many other natural phenomena are associated by visitors with unique features and resources of parks they hold dear.”
Environmental groups point out that there are thousands of acres of national forest land surrounding Yellowstone where snowmobilers can ride.
Ted Rueter, Noise Free America’s director, stated that “snowmobiles have no place in Yellowstone. Every day, the whine of these loud engines interrupt the serenity of a national treasure. Also, the noise puts stress on animals, such as ellk and bisons, which already have a hard time making it through the winter.”
Noise Free America is a national citizens organization opposed to noise polluton. Its web site is http://noisefree.org. Past “winners” of the Noisy Dozen award include Echo Manufacturing, Pioneer Electronics, and Circuit City.