TRPA monitors background noise levels in all Plan Areas in the Tahoe Basin to ensure noise levels are not disturbing people and wildlife, and to maintain the unique characteristics of the Basin. Each Plan Area has its own allowable noise level in TRPA's thresholds, with maximum average 24-hour allowable noise levels ranging from 45 decibles (dB) in wilderness areas to 65 dB in industrial areas.

Program Overview
Noise - Plan Areas

TRPA uses a Community Noise Equivalent Level (CNEL) meaure to assess whether noise levels are being exceeded in Plan Areas. The CNEL averages decible levels over a 24 hour period, with excess noise late at night and early in the morning being weighted greater due to humans and wildlife being more sensitive to noise at these times. Noise monitors are generally put out in Plan Areas for 1-2 weeks during peak noise periods (generally summer). The average 24-hour CNEL measured is used to assess noise levels. Construction noise or other unusual noise events are excluded from the data. Noise monitors are calibrated and tested to noise industry standards to ensure proper measurements. TRPA monitors 35 Plan Areas per year, and re-visits each site once every 4 years (140 Plan Areas monitored total). 

In general, the following CNEL noise levels are allowed in different land use categroies: 

  • Wilderness and roadless areas = 45 dB
  • Low density residential areas = 50 dB
  • Rural outdoor recreation areas = 50 dB
  • High density residential areas = 55 dB
  • Urban outdoor recreation areas = 55 dB
  • Commercial areas = 60 dB
  • Hotel / motel areas = 60 dB
  • Industrial areas = 65 dB


Monitoring Sites

Select a Monitoring Site from the list or click a location marker on the map to explore.

TRPA leads the noise monitoring program. Noise monitors are put on property with permission from the California Tahoe Conservancy, California State Parks, Nevada State Parks, U.S. Forest Service, and private property owners.

TRPA Noise Monitoring Plan
This document describes protocols, measurement locations, and other technical information about TRPA's noise monitoring program.

Monitoring Site List
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