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Acoustical Technicians setting up equipment in Devils Tower National Monument Night Sky technician setting up equipment atop Mauna Kea, Big Island of Hawaii (Photo by Jeremy White) Acoustical Technician setting up equipment in Crater Lake National Park Night Sky Technician setting up equipment atop Mt. Washington, Great Basin NP (Photo by Kate Magargal) Acoustical Technicians in Muir Woods National Monument Volunteers using Night Sky Quality Meter in Saguaro National Park (Photo by Jeremy White) Acoustical Technician setting up equipment in Organ Pipe National Monument Night Sky Technician setting up equipment on Summit of Mauna Kea (Photo by Jeremy White) Acoustical Technician setting up equipment in Everglades National Park Night Sky Technician setting up equipment at Badlands National Park
Our acoustical and night sky technicians setting up equipment in the field. NPS Photos.

The NPS Overflights Branch was created in 2000 to implement the National Parks Air Tour Management Act, which mandated that FAA and NPS jointly develop Air Tour Management Plans (ATMP’s) for more than 100 parks where commercial air tours operate. In 2002 the Branch moved under the Natural Resources Stewardship and Science directorate and was renamed as the Natural Sounds Program. The scientists, planners, and managers of the program assist park managers with specialized resource management and policy expertise as well as technical expertise in the form of acoustical monitoring, data collections and analysis, and all aspects of park planning and compliance.

Meanwhile in 1999, growing public interest in dark skies and rising concern over light pollution in national parks led to the creation of the NPS Night Skies Program. Through a scientific inventory of nighttime conditions in parks, the program has documented the extent of the problem and its impact upon scenic, wildlife, and cultural resources. The program maintains expertise in light pollution measurement and mitigation, develops appropriate metrics and management approaches for protecting wildlife and visitor experiences, and facilitates public enjoyment of starry skies in national parks.

In 2011 these two programs were combined as the Natural Sounds & Night Skies Division (NSNSD), part of the Natural Resource Stewardship & Science Directorate of the NPS. These programs have pioneered techniques for measuring sound and light levels in remote locations, have advanced research into noise and light pollution, and are noted for their application of science to sensory resources. NSNSD assists parks in implementing management policies, coordinates a consistent approach to protecting resources and visitor experience, interacts with the public and encourages appreciation of natural sounds and dark night skies, and provides a range of specialized assistance to national park managers.

Last Updated: April 05, 2012