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Quietude, Wilderness Values and Conservation

We believe that quietude is an essential wilderness experience. It is a valuable resource which should be preserved in all pristine Wilderness and park areas.

The concept of quietude is inextricably tied up in the wilderness definition as expressed in the Wilderness Act of 1964 (PL 88-577):

"A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain."

Other parts of the definition further define this as an area which retains "its primeval character...with the imprint of man's work substantially unnoticeable" and which has "outstanding opportunities for solitude...."

The wilderness definition speaks to the primeval character of the land and the need to preserve it; Wilderness is defined as "an area that has outstanding opportunities for solitude."

But solitude in an area has often been interpreted only to include physical solitude, i.e. to be physically remote from works of man.

Auditory solitude, i.e. quietude has not often been interpreted as an an important aspect of wilderness management.

We feel that quietude was recognized as an important value, for preservation by the drafters of the wilderness act and is definitely implied by it. Noone in the 60's could conceive how intrusive these sounds would become even in the most isolated wilderness areas. But due to the enormous increase in air traffic and other intrusive sounds in the past twenty years we feel that a strong reinterpretation of this aspect is necessary to reaffirm its importance.

Paul Matzner, Founding Member
Nature Sounds Society

Conservation and Quietude

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