for Soundscape Awareness and Protection

359 - 1985 Wallace Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6R 4H4 Phone (604) 222-0207
Web Site: www.quiet.org E-mail: info@quiet.org

Spring 2006

Oasis of Silence

One square inch of silence is the quietest place in the United States. Located in the Hoh Rain Forest at Olympic National Park, it is approximately three miles from the Visitor's Center above Mt. Tom Creek Meadows. Hiking time from the parking lot at the Visitor's Center to the site is approximately two hours along a gentle path lined by ancient trees and ferns. The exact location is marked by a small red-colored stone placed on top of a moss-covered log at 47° 51.959N, 123° 52.221W, 678 feet above sea level.

One Square Inch of Silence was designated on Earth Day 2005 (April 22, 2005) to protect and manage the natural soundscape in Olympic Park's backcountry wilderness. The logic is simple: if a loud noise, such as the passing of an aircraft, can impact many square miles, then a natural place, if maintained in a 100% noise-free condition, will also impact many square miles around it. It is predicted that protecting a single square inch of land from noise pollution will benefit large areas of the park.

The hope is that this simple and inexpensive method of soundscape management will prove to be a valuable resource management tool towards fulfilling a goal of NPS Management Policy, Chapter 4.9 Soundscape Management.

The National Park Service will preserve, to the greatest extent possible, the natural soundscapes of parks. Natural soundscapes exist in the absence of human-caused sound. The Service will restore degraded soundscapes to the natural condition wherever possible, and will protect natural soundscapes from degradation due to noise (undesirable human-caused sound).

One Square Inch of Silence is an independent research project. The National Park Service will promote relationships with individuals and organizations qualified to perform research, and encourage them to direct their research toward park management objectives and the broader contexts within which park resources exist (Chapter 5.1.2 Independent Research).

Visits are made periodically to One Square Inch to monitor for possible noise intrusions. If noise intrusions are observed then an attempt is made to identify and contact the responsible party and they are asked to voluntarily quiet down. These actions are posted in the News section of this website: <http://www.onesquareinch.org/> .

Olympic National Park was chosen for One Square Inch because it has a diverse natural soundscape combined with substantial periods of natural quiet. Unlike other national parks, such as Yellowstone, Grand Canyon or Hawaii Volcanoes, air tourism is undeveloped and roads do not divide park lands. Because there are few noise intrusions in the backcountry wilderness, noise sources are easier to identify at Olympic than at other parks. The variety of natural soundscapes presented by different habitat types such as alpine glaciers, rain forests, lakes and streams, and wilderness beach provide meaningful examples of soundscape beauty. When a noise intrusion has occurred at One Square Inch and the responsible party is asked to quiet down, a sample of the natural soundscape of Olympic Park is provided on audio CD. The audio CD ends with a noise intrusion, making it easy to understand that noise causes real destruction of the park experience. The need for corrective action is obvious.

Entire contents © 2006 Right to Quiet Society. Cartoon © 1996 Right to Quiet Society
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