- Associated Press - Friday, February 20, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - One of the big differences between the West and the rest of the nation is noise.

Florida is loud. Michigan is loud. And the strip of big Eastern cities from Boston south to Washington, D.C., is really loud.

But Utah has some of the quietest land in all of the United States. Monitors in Dinosaur National Monument picked up some of the lowest decibel levels in the study. Even the dense metro area surrounding Salt Lake City doesn’t buzz like many of its counterparts nationwide.

This look at noisy America comes from the National Park Service, which gathered 1.5 million hours of acoustical data during an average summer day and used a computer algorithm to fill in the blanks.

Kurt Fristrup, a scientist with the National Park Service, hopes that people will see this map and want to turn those bright yellows, indicating higher decibel levels, down to blues.

His basic tips are to use electric rather than gaspowered equipment when possible. Drive the speed limit because the faster you go, the more noise you make. And make sure that car has a quality muffler.

Why should you care?

Well, Fristrup is focused on the nation’s parks. He wants people to enjoy the sound of the wind rushing through trees, of birds taking flight from a branch and of critters rustling in the bush.

Arches National Park and Utah’s other national parks are among the quietest places in Utah. Zion, while hushed, appears to be the loudest, with its proximity to St. George.

The reasons the West is so quiet are rather obvious. The states are home to mountain ranges and deserts and are sparsely populated outside of the big cities.

But Fristrup added another reason why Utah is so silent. It is a dry desert.

“Flowing water is a prominent source of sound,” he said. And where it is wet, there tend to be more wildlife that, in turn, make more noise.

Those wet areas also have more vegetation that can produce noise when whipped by the wind.

Utah can market itself as a place where people can view grand red rock landscapes and experience something unusual in the United States - silence.


Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, https://www.sltrib.com

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