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Moran State Park Sound Map: Visualizing Sound Levels & Sonic Perceptions in Public Lands

Authors: Celida Moran*, Western Washington University, Lauren Kim*,
Topics: Environmental Perception, Human-Environment Geography, Applied Geography
Keywords: Soundscape, lands management, citizen agency
Session Type: Guided Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This study explores the soundscape of MSP using an accessible and applicable methodology that integrates perceptions of sound (through visitor surveys) and acoustic measurements (in decibel). Using calibrated smartphone apps, we were able to measure sound as experienced from a continuous and active perspective instead of a static, point-based measurement. In June and July 2019, sound levels were gathered for every official hiking trail in MSP. Surveys were administered at four predetermined sites using a dose-response methodology. By superimposing our survey responses and sound data with GPS points, we created a sound map that shows the differences in source and volume of sounds throughout the park. Our findings showed that with an average sound level of 54.0 dB, Moran is a relatively protected soundscape and should serve as a baseline for further studies in public lands. 65% of survey participants selected sound-related motivations for their visit to the park and all participants said that impacts of sound should be taken into consideration in public lands management. Lastly, our data, results, and methodology can not only inform strategies for park rangers and policy-makers to deal more effectively with sound and noise pollution, but also expand citizen agency around sound, a feature of our surrounding geography that may have been previously inaccessible.

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