Magazine article Sunset

Music of the Wild

Magazine article Sunset

Music of the Wild

Article excerpt

Archivists Jeff Rice and Kenning Arlitsch are recording the disappearing sounds of the West. They share picks for listening to nature, including its most endangered sound- silence

Hear wildlife

OWYHEE MOUNTAINS, ID, NV & OR This wild landscape is one of the great remaining sagebrush ecosystems: a haven for hawks, sage grouse, and pronghorn deer, whose call "sounds like a ricochet," says Rice. Enter via the Owyhee Uplands Backcountry Byway, bim.gov

AÑO NUEVO STATE PARK, CA "Elephant seals gather here and bellow and snort, creating one of the great soundscapes of the West," Rice says, parlu.ca.gov

SONORAN DESERT NATIONAL MONUMENT, AZ During the summer rains, this area comes alive with frogs, toads, and coyotes, blm.gov

Listen to water

SALMON RIVER, ID Whether you float the main Salmon or its wilder middle fork, the sound of rushing water enfolds you. "It's also a rich river for wildlife,' says Arlitsch. "You can hear coyotes, osprey - wolves if you're lucky." www.fsjed.us/r4/sc; for river outfitters, go to ioga.org

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK, WA This rugged coast "is great for recording waves and beach rake," says Rice ("rake" is his term for waves receding on the beach). "I plan to go back this winter after a storm and capture some of the dramatic waves at Ruby Beach." nps.gov/olym

Experience silence

GRAVEL CANYON, UT It's a bit of a walk to get here, but "there's no silence like the silence of the canyons," says Arlitsch. bim.gov or 435/587-1500 /or directions.

CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK, UT As measured by the National Park Service, the park interior is one of the quietest places in the United States. "They found sound levels at 15 to 20 decibels - about as low as a recording studio," says Rice, nps.gov/cany

GREAT BASIN NATIONAL PARK, NV The bristlecone pines here are 3,000 to 5,000 years old. "It's a remarkable, lonely silence," says Arlitsch. nps.gov/grba

Listen closer: Tips from the experts

* Pay more attention to the sounds around you; they will give you a 360° survey of the wilderness.

* Try to learn a few bird or animal calls - it immediately raises your awareness of what's out there.

* When in doubt, head toward water: Wherever it's wet, you tend to find interesting sounds.

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