Noise Pollution at Devil’s Lake?

Noise Pollution at Devil’s Lake?

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, “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.

North Shore Auto Line

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.

Plane Fly Over Kayaks

Low flying plane buzzes kayakers

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.

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  1. Bill

    It’s too bad DNR has chosen to allow high impact uses in Badger.

    That wasn’t the original plan, the Badger Reuse Plan. That realized and placed a premium on the fact that there were large places in Badger that were absolutely quiet. In the words of Mike Mossman, widely-known bird expert, “All you hear is birds” in the middle of Badger. This is so rare in Sout5hern Wisconsin.

    Among the most cherished places I’ve gone, were the quiet ones that allowed you to truly “get away'”.

    I predict that public pressure will someday roll the high impact uses back.

    It’s just a question of how soon we realize how important “quiet” truly is.

  2. Joe salemi

    Well said Bill.
    It is so unfortunate that the workings of public pressure did not keep back the high impact uses and that only government and not “we” will realize if “quiet” truly is important.
    If government can define off road motorcycles as low impact, then it can certainly define dirty as clean, unsafe as safe, unhealthy as healthy and black as blue. And if “we” don’t resist, then the government is free to set these definitions and “we” are not.
    Then the government is free and “we” are not.

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