The noise of nature: Giant megaphone amplifies sounds of the Adirondack woods

Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 6:49 PM EDT
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BRIGHTON, N.Y. (WCAX) - A new giant megaphone aims to enhance the wild noises of the Adirondacks, bringing people closer to nature.

“It took quite a bit of ingenuity, math and just some good old Paul Smith’s know-how,” said Dave Simmons of Paul Smith’s College.

A new educational and environmental instrument known as the forest megaphone has been installed at Paul Smith’s VIC, a nature preserve along the Barnum Brook Trail. The megaphone is made of red pine wood and amplifies natural sounds.

Charles Forbes, the chief steward at the VIC, says the megaphone was a capstone project that was undertaken by his friend, Tyler Roszman.

“Tyler is right now working for the Bureau of Land Management out in Utah, so he is not here right now. He has not been able to come out and visit the forest megaphone. But just kind of his tenacity to get this project going, I am proud of him for actually getting out here and doing it,” Forbes said.

He says Roszman spent several weeks determining the best area where the sounds of birds, wind and running water could be captured and be accessible.

“Closest spot to the building that had the most natural sound and it was the most accessible, which was kind of the big draw point for this spot, was for all people to come and see,” Forbes said.

Simmons, who is with the Department of Forestry at Paul Smith’s College, oversaw the construction of the wooden sound amplifier. He says it cost roughly $10,000 and was constructed in two days after gathering building materials. He says the megaphone’s location on the trail catches the curiosity of hikers.

“There is always turns and twists, so the visitors always, ‘What is around that next bend? What am I going to see? As you approach this it is just like that. You come around this bend and you’re like, ‘Whoa, what is that?’” Simmons said.

Natalee Wrege, an environmental educator at Paul Smith’s, says now that the megaphone is up, she is looking forward to using its unique acoustics to educate kids.

“It is one thing to be able to hear when you are walking around but having things heightened to a level where it gives it more detail is kind of enlightening for students,” Wrege said.

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