Last Updated
May 9, 2016

Noise Program

Military installations are, by nature, sources of noise and the Army can receive complaints from the general public regarding military noise. Fort Polk is sensitive to the general public’s concerns regarding noise. In order to minimize excessive noise, the installation has implemented an Installation Environmental Noise Management Plan and installed a network of noise monitoring stations.

Information is continuously being collected through the use of seven (7) noise monitors located south and east of the Limited Use Area (LUA) impact area and five (5) monitors located around the Peason Ridge area. An additional noise monitor was installed in 2009 inside the DMPBAC at Live Fire Village #2, bringing the Peason Ridge monitoring array up to six (6) permanent monitors. Data is transferred to Fort Polk from this monitor via a satellite dish.

In FY2012, the thirteen (13) permanent noise monitors were replaced with new monitors that have the capability to capture and record audio clips of noise events. These sound recordings record sounds from four (4) seconds prior to the onset of the noise event to seven (7) seconds after the noise event. These noise clips provide the manager of the noise program with an easy way to determine whether the noise event was caused by bomb blasts, artillery, aircraft, lightning, vehicles without mufflers, or dogs barking. The noise monitoring program continues to fulfill Fort Polk’s commitment to the public to provide monitoring, as agreed to in the Environmental Assessments conducted for the LUA and Peason Ridge areas. 

The general public has historically filed complaints for excessive noise from military activities conducted on both Fort Polk and Peason Ridge. Activities generating noise complaints include small unit training activities, small arms ranges, large ordnance (i.e. armor and artillery), and aviation activities. The likelihood of a particular activity generating a complaint due to noise depends on a variety of characteristics of the noise including its sound level, number of occurances, time pattern, abruptness of onset or cessation, or the presence of background noise. 

In September 1993, the Fort Polk Public Affairs Office (PAO) began handling noise complaints for the installation. The PAO is available to receive complaints by telephone, in person at their office or by e-mail. Complaints can be received 24 hours a day by answering machine or e-mail. Upon receipt of a complaint, a Civilian Complaint Report is completed. A representative of the PAO follows up each complaint by attempting to make personal contact with the person reporting a complaint to reach a resolution within 24 hours of receipt. In instances where physical damage from noise has occurred to property, the Army has compensated the individual for these specific damages.

The greatest number of public complaints regarding noise occurred in 1994, the first full year after the JRTC moved to Fort Polk when there were 43 helicopter complaints and 17 aircraft complaints. From FY94 through FY08, helicopters have contributed to 50% of the total noise complaints and other types of aircraft have contributed to 35%. The most common complaints involving helicopters and aircraft are attributed to low flying and hovering. In addition to disturbing people, historic complaints have been filed claiming disturbance of livestock and the shaking of pictures off of walls. Various types of ordnance are other common sources of noise complaints and only account for 15% of all complaints.

Since 1994, the number of noise complaints has drastically declined due to management of sensitive activities. In 1998, however, fourteen noise complaints were filed within an hour when Air Force jets created “sonic booms” near the town of Deridder and in 2001 there were ten (10) noise complaints for ordnance when 200 pound charge weights were used. To minimize noise complaints, Fort Polk has responded by making adjustments in the flight paths of both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft and reducing detonation charge weights to reduce noise.

Historically, a significant portion of Fort Polk’s noise complaints have been associated with military aircraft operations. In a proactive effort to identify expected aircraft noise levels in the area near the Digital Multipurpose Battle Area Course (DMPBAC) range, Fort Polk conducted a series of field monitoring and noise data collection events in mid 2006. Portable noise monitors were positioned at five locations along the eastern side Louisiana Highway 117 in a linear arrangement and synchronized for real time data collection. The equipment was aligned perpendicular to the predominant flight path of aircraft entering the DMPBAC range. Results of the field data collection indicated an average equivalent sound level (LEQ) of 70 dB for 15 seconds for the OH-58 Kiowa and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, and 80 dB for 25 seconds for the F-16 Falcon. Although not conclusive, these data represent a snapshot in time of aircraft noise levels based field conditions during the monitoring event. 

There were no noise complaints in FY06. In FY07, seven (7) noise complaints registered at Fort Polk were associated with one training event which occurred in June 2007. There was only one (1) noise complaint filed in FY08 associated with fixed wing aircraft northeast of Fort Polk. There were no noise complaints in 2009, 2010, or 2011. Fort Polk received one noise complaint in January of 2012 from the dropping of bombs as part of training at Peason Ridge. This occurred when an atmospheric inversion was present. Atmospheric inversions are weather phenomenon that typically only occur during winter months when the sky is clear and the night time temperature is 25 degrees or more cooler than the day time temperature. Atmospheric inversions trap sound near the ground instead of allowing the sound to rise to the upper atmosphere and dissipate. Trapping the sound at ground level, intensifies the sound level at the neighboring receptors, which results in increased complaints. The weather conditions that cause atmospheric inversions do not occur in Louisiana very frequently due to the natural high humidity of the area and atmospheric inversions almost never occur outside the months of December thru February. A new noise monitoring station is planned at the location of the January 2012 noise complaint. This monitor should be installed in early FY2013.

Photo of a noise monitor located on Fort Polk
Photo of a noise monitor located on Fort Polk

Noise monitor records the results of a helicopter fly over
Noise monitor records the results of a helicopter fly over

Noise test equipment being unpacked
Noise test equipment being unpacked