Friday, Jul 11, 2008
On May l9th, visitors were given a free fee day at Muir Woods National Monument to join in the dedication of Cathedral Grove as a permanent place of peace and quiet. This is the first such dedication in a national park. Zen Center abbot Steve Stuckey and executive director of the Save-the-Redwoods League Ruskin Hartley spoke about the significance of this commitment to the natural soundscape, the visitor experience and the long legacy of associating peace in a natural setting, particularly the redwood forest.
Redwood forests are noted for the intrinsic quietness and the proclamation protecting Muir Woods as a national monument 100 years ago specifically notes its primeval qualities. Soundscape studies and social science researchers have confirmed the value visitors place on the natural soundscape as well as their willingness to respect zones of natural quiet.
Other efforts to protect the natural soundscape of this redwood forest include quieting activities in the park's Junior Ranger book, quiet cash registers in the visitor center, electric chainsaws, and efforts by businesses such as Sea Plane Tours to "work with FAA through the Air Tour Management Plan to minimize aircraft noise over Muir Woods."
Muir Woods has a longstanding relationship to the United Nations. UN delegates met here in 1945 at a memorial gathering to honor a main architect of world peace in the closing days of WWII, the late President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. UN Secretary General Dag Hammersjold had a special relationship to Muir Woods and redwoods and a grove was named in his honor after his untimely death, the dedication happening in Muir Woods while the permanent grove was purchased further north. And every secretary general has since visited, including Ban Ki-moon in August 2007. World Environment Day, a UN program, was celebrated at Muir Woods in June 2005.
The timeless choice of Cathedral Grove as a placed dedicated permanently to peace and quiet was eloquently expressed back in 1945. The National Park Service press release issued on that occasion says, "The site in the monument chosen for the meeting is aptly named - Cathedral Grove, it was pointed out. In this quiet grove is the impressiveness of a temple. Massive fluted columns, the trunks of the great coast redwoods, support a ceiling of green and the sunlight filters in as through a church window. It is a place designed by nature to engender a feeling of peace and reverence..."
For more information contact Mia Monroe, Mia_Monroe@nps.gov