Chances are, when you visit Devil’s Lake State Park, you are there to “Get away from it all.” Sometimes it almost feels like you’ve achieved it. Still, if you’re lucky enough to find a moment to sit alone atop the bluffs to watch the vultures soaring on the evening thermals, you’ll slowly become aware of a low but constant roar of traffic noise. In fact, these days you can hear auto traffic from anywhere within the park.
According to an article from Wired.com, “New figures from the Department of Transportation show that 98 percent of Americans are exposed to around 50 decibels worth of road- or aviation-related screeching, the audible equivalent of a refrigerator hum.” These days you simply cannot get away from it.
On a busy summer day at Devil’s Lake State Park it can get quite loud around the lake as the sounds of human activity are bounced and magnified within the bowl of the bluffs surrounding the lake. The sounds of crowded beaches, busy trails, low flying planes & helicopters, road traffic in and outside the park all contribute to the ever increasing noise layer.
Most of use are pretty well desensitized to the noise these days. Still there is reason for concern. Growing noise is a bit like the old frog in the frying pan. It often has to be pointed out before someone becomes aware of the din. An expanded 4 lane highway 12 just west of the park and newly sanctioned motorbike events on the southern border within the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area will mean the roar will only get louder. The increased noise will cause problems for our wildlife and generally make summer vacations at Devil’s Lake just a bit more stressful than they ought to be.
What’s the solution? I really don’t know, but I think we should probably be paying attention.