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Muffle that bike of yours, okay?

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The debate of over noise in national parks always seems to center on snowmobiles in Yellowstone. It’s a worthy debate, to be sure. And since you asked, I think the practice should be eradicated. Winter in Yellowstone is an excruciatingly difficult survival scenario for the majority of the animals. With food at a minimum, every expense of energy needs to be spent on locating calories, not running from the buzzing curiosity of tourists on gas-powered sleds.

My greater concern surrounds the remainder of the parks during the travel season, specifically as it relates to the noise produced by motorcycles equipped with after-market mufflers marketed to increase exhaust noise. It became readily apparent to me this summer in Grand Teton and Yellowstone and then downright off-pissing a few weeks ago in the Smokies, in which the thoroughfares of travel are narrow, densely wooded and limited in alternatives. Add to that Great Smoky Mountain National Park’s status as the system’s most visited and you have an issue that I believe needs to be dealt with soon.

I know the Department of the Interior probably wants another National Parks debate like I want syphillis, but here are some suggestions: (If these ideas have been brought up elsewhere, good. Check out this write-up on Big Bend National Park’s official site.)

  • Create specific hours of travel for motorcycles with after market pipes. Specifically, keep them quiet during times when animals frequently travel, like early evening and morning.

  • Limit the areas within parks where they can travel. Perhaps this provides more backing for the shuttle system argument.

  • Take off the muffler before entering the park. (Many are slip-on and require almost no tools to install.)

  • Allow Rangers the ability to ticket or fine excessively loud motorcycles as a noise disturbance. The subjectivity of this would raise concern, certainly. But I don’t care.

  • Any other ideas?

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