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Great Sand Dunes on track to be first designated quiet zone in the U.S.

We’ve all heard about air pollution and maybe even light pollution, but how about sound pollution? It’s a conservation movement that has a lot of people listening.

Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes are on track to be the first designated quiet zone in the U.S.

Matt Mikkelsen is the co-founder of Quiet Parks International.

“Quiet Parks International is the first and only organization committed to the preservation of quiet for the benefit of all living beings,” he said.

Mikkelsen says the soundscape of an area is a good indicator of its overall health.

“When you have a pristine soundscape you also have a pristine environment,” he explained. “That means there’s not resource extraction, there’s no major transportation hubs or roads, the species infrastructure is intact.”

Just like us, animals exposed to too much noise can get stressed out, he says. So highways and airplanes passing overhead can damage ecosystems.

“So many animals use sound as a sense that they rely on to gather food or attract mates and avoid predators,” he said. “You can imagine that animals that exist in noisy environments have a harder time using their hearing to be able to gather information about their space.”

Now, Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park could soon become the first area in America to have a “Quiet Designation.”

“There’s tons of other sounds going on. There’s the wind through the grass, there’s birds, there’s elk bugling, but there’s not a whole lot of noise pollution there,” he said.

Mikkelsen says the park was picked because right now it is so pristine. And it’s not just the dunes. He and his team have identified more than 260 other locations around the world they want to protect.

He hopes the more the public is educated, the more we will be considerate and keep it down.

There’s only one other park in the world with a quiet designation, an area in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

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