August 1, 2011
Noise Free America
For immediate release
Albany: Yosemite National Park–1,200 square miles of deep valleys, grand meadows, giant sequoias, and a vast wilderness area”–has won this month’s Noisy Dozen award from Noise Free America for allowing thunderous motorcycles to ruin the right of other visitors to enjoy peace and quiet. At Yosemite National Park, Harley riders rule.
Jeff LaRive, a resident of Santa Cruz, California, stated that “I have been visiting and exploring Yosemite National Park since I was a child in the early 1960s. There have always been occasional disruptions to the overall quiet of the park. But in the last 20 years, these Harley disruptions have become so common that quiet is now almost the exception. The American Motorcyclist Association estimates that the vast majority of Harleys have modified exhaust systems, with exhaust systems capable of producing 110 decibels or more. These motorcycle bikers love blasting their engines just to hear the roar of those 110 decibels echoing across the valley.”
According to LaRive, “It has always amazed me that the National Park System (including Yosemite National Park) not only allows, but actually encourages, illegally-equipped motorcycles in the park. The National Park Service mission statement states their goal to ‘preserve and/or restore the natural resources of the parks, including the natural soundscapes.’
The presence of illegally-equipped motorcycles in Yosemite National Park guarantees that the loudest sound will be obnoxious motorcycle noise. The entrance station at Yosemite National Park should be used to control access to the park and filter out obviously illegal motor vehicles which degrade the experience for the majority of visitors to the park.”
LaRive first began to notice the degradation to Yosemite National Park caused by illegally-equipped Harleys when he was fly fishing on the Merced River: “Normal vehicle traffic on Highway 140 is completely drowned out by the sound of the water in the Merced River. However, the noise from packs of illegally-equipped Harleys started to drown out the roar of the river. That was 20 years ago. It has only gotten worse. Camping anywhere near Yosemite has become a nightmare of noise, mostly caused by illegally-equipped Harleys. If you are anywhere near a Harley rider, you will wake up when they do and you will not sleep until the last one is done blasting his motorcycle. Never mind that Yosemite’s stated quiet hours are from 10:00 pm to 6:00 am. As far as Yosemite National Park is concerned, those rules don’t apply to illegally-equipped motorcycles.”
In LaRive’s view, “No one visits our national parks to be bombarded by noise. The National Park Service should be doing their utmost to curb this ever-growing problem. I look forward to the day when I can enjoy my favorite national park without the deafening roar of illegal motorcycles.”
Ted Rueter, Noise Free America’s director, noted that “it is simply amazing that a federal agency does not enforce federal law. The federal Noise Control Act of 1972 makes it illegal to modify or remove a motorcycle exhaust for the purpose of making noise. You would think that the National Park Service would enforce a federal law intended to protect the public’s right to peace and quiet.”
Noise Free America is a national non-profit organization devoted to noise reduction. Past “winners” of the Noisy Dozen award include the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.