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Explore the Soundscapes of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Written by Charlie Pankey

SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS, Calif. September 6, 2019 – A new way to experience the great outdoors is here for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.  An innovative project dedicated to capturing the sounds of the parks, at different elevations and ecosystems, has been completed and is now making them accessible to those near and far. A new exhibit in the Kings Canyon Visitor Center of Grant Grove is now available to visitors, as well as a soundscape library, story map, and a video online for all to enjoy.

To experience this project for yourself, visit our website

The story map and video use geographic context to take a virtual visitor on a tour of the sights and sounds that they might find while traversing one of the parks’ trails. The story map uses a set of interactive maps, text, photos, illustrations, video, and audio to take the visitor from the foothills of the Sierra Nevada to the alpine peaks, and tells the story of each of the ecosystems encountered along the way. The video also follows this path and matches the sounds with the sights that created them. 

“This project is a great example of how the National Park Service is taking scientific data and making it discoverable, accessible, and useable by the public,” Paul Hardwick, Branch Chief of Information Resources for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks said.

Scientists use specialized equipment to record these soundscapes. Studying the diversity and patterns of sound can help us better understand how species diversity varies among places and over time. For example, we can learn how wildfire affects the abundance and diversity of birds in giant sequoia forests with and without prior prescribed burning, how the presence of non-native fish may change the abundance and variety of birds and bats foraging at lakes, and how species composition changes over the course of a season or many years. Biological monitoring with the use of continuous recording acoustic equipment also provides opportunities to extend surveys to places and intervals when it is inconvenient or impossible for observers to be present.

“I have witnessed visitors stand totally mesmerized by this project. Rare are the chances for any of us to hear the clash of horns of the bighorn sheep, the singular drop of melting snow droplets, or the chatter of a mountain-top pika. The Soundscapes project ensures that all have access to the unique natural and cultural resources of these two parks,” Savanna Boiano, Executive Director of the Sequoia Parks Conservancy said, “The Sequoia Parks Conservancy is very proud to have supported this program.” 

Project Contributors
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Colorado State University, Midpines Media, NPS Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division, and our park partner Sequoia Parks Conservancy.

About the author

Charlie Pankey

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