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Wildlands Issues

For news and science on wildlands topics since 2008, visit and either choose a Category (list on right side of page), or do a search for a word or topic of interest.
For example, here are a couple of pages that gather posts based on category:
Or, enter one or more words in the search box, and you'll receive a page of posts that contains both words (no need to say "and") in the search:

Wildlands Issues Introduction

Longtime environmental sound recordists all report an unsettling truth: over the past fifteen years, their ability to find locations free of human noise intrusions has diminished dramatically. Gordon Hempton reports that the average interval between the sonic appearance of planes, vehicles, or the voices of hikers has

dropped in most places from a maximum of 15 minutes to 5 minutes; the number of sites where he can can count on at least 15 minutes of unbroken natural ambience has fallen by two-thirds.

While some of these sonic intrusions are subtle, perhaps not even noticable to those of us with typically hardened ears, other changes are far more extreme. Human use of our limited wild lands is skyrocketing in every category. The number of hikers in wilderness areas, off-road vehicles in national forests, parks, and BLM lands, and snowmobiles and jetskis on public and private lands have all increased dramatically in the past few years.

It's wonderful when insects begin to hum at dawn and you hear the countless wings beating from many square kilometers around you. Then you hear an insect you haven't noticed before--and of course, it turns out to be a jet.

Gordon Hempton

Individuals and land managers have begun to rise to the challenges of these changes. Over the past few years, a number of organizations have begun public awareness campaigns about the effects of human noise on both wild nature and quiet recreation, and land managers have instituted new studies and strict regulations in response to biological and multiple use concerns.

The sub-topics included in this section of are very inter-related. Biologists and "quiet users" of wild lands each have their own reasons for wanting to treat the natural soundscape as a resource to be recognized, managed, and protected in wild areas. The management of motorized recreation is an especially sensitive subject, placing differing user groups into conflict with one another. With more people each year looking for opportunities to ride Off-Road Vehicles, along with an increasing number of hikers and mountain bikers seeking areas of relative quiet, the development of management plans has become a battleground over vehicular access. At, we hope that both camps, and land managers, can find ways to use common sense, natural topography, and dialogue to create opportunities for all to enjoy our public lands.

AEI Special Reports
Continually updated reports on wildlands topics

NEW! Wind Energy Noise Impacts
Noise from industrial wind turbines causes problems for neighbors in perhaps 20% of wind farms. This report summarizes what is known about turbine noise, including atmospheric and other influences on noise propagation. Includes links to major research reports on the topic, and to government, industry, and NGO websites.

Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) Travel Management
Focusing on new National Forest ORV rules limiting cross-country travel; BLM and NPS ORV planning also being tracked.

Yellowstone Winter Use
The management plan controversy that won't go featuring Round Three!

AEI Spotlight Reports
Introductory reports on one-time events and topics subject to current management planning

Coalbed Methane Development: A Jarring Soundprint on the American West
An overview of the sound impacts on local residents caused by coalbed methane pumps and compressor stations

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