Open source acoustic model development for natural & protected environments



Natural quiet and the sounds of nature are important natural resources and experiencing them is an important aspect of outdoor recreation experiences. Anthropogenic sound can negatively impact these resources and diminish the benefits realized from outdoor recreation. On public lands where many types of recreation share trails and landscapes, the sounds produced by some types of recreation (e.g., motorized recreation) can negatively impact the experiences of others.  To effectively manage public resources including natural soundscapes and recreation opportunities, public land and recreation managers need an understanding of the effects of recreation-caused sounds like those associated with motorized recreation. Acoustic models for recreation and protected areas provide an essential tool to help in predicting sound levels generated by these anthropogenic sources and can aid in studying the extent of potential recreation conflicts, while providing a definite direction to mitigate such conflicts. An open source outdoor sound propagation model integrated with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) lays out a good foundation for mapping visitor experience affected by sound sources like gas compressors and motorized recreation sounds. The results thus produced present a preliminary version of an outdoor sound propagation tool, to assist parks and state forest services in making important management decisions to refine visitor experience.