A brilliant night sky arises over the bison paddock in Waterton Lakes National Park. Dark Sky Park certification will help preserve these views into the future. (Chinara Adhofer / Parks Canada)

A brilliant night sky arises over the bison paddock in Waterton Lakes National Park. Dark Sky Park certification will help preserve these views into the future. (Chinara Adhofer / Parks Canada)

Waterton-Glacier park turns out lights to recieve Dark Sky Park designation

The national parks are the first Dark Sky Park of its kind in the world

The skies in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta and Glacier National Park, Montana, USA are now a stargazers dream.

On August 12 the two parks announced they have been given full certification as an International Dark Sky Park from the International Dark Sky Association (IDA).

Locke Marshall, Visitor Experience Manager of Waterton, said the park’s designation is the first of its kind and they’re very proud of that.

“Waterton is very pleased to, jointly with Glacier National Park in the United States, be designated by the IDA as actually the world’s first international transboundary Dark Sky Park,” said Marshall.

Waterton-Glacier was designated in 1932 as the first international peace park in the world, which means the two parks work collaboratively on things such as getting dark sky certified.

Marshall said work on this designation began a few years ago.

“Waterton-Glacier International Dark Sky Park actually received Gold-Tier certification with provisional status from the IDA back in April 2017,” he said.

“So it’s just prior to that that we put our first application in.”

To obtain full status this year Marshall said the parks needed to have a minimum of 67 percent of the light fixtures meet the standard for a Dark Sky park, which they did by installing special LED streetlights.

“We’re meeting a guideline where the temperature of the light is below the 2200 (Kelvins) or 2000 (Kelvins) level,” Marshall said.

“These lights that we installed were at 1650 (Kelvins), so it makes it a warmer light and reduces glare.”

Marshall said the lights are full cutoff so they direct the light downward preventing the light from going into the night sky as well as being beneficial to wildlife and human health.

“There are very few places in the world where you can get a real good view of stars at night,” Marshall said.

“Here it is a unique experience … there are places where there’s no artificial light whatsoever and you can look up and easily see the Milky Way.”

Waterton-Glacier now holds four joint designations – International Peace Park, Biosphere Reserve, World Heritage Site and now the first transboundary IDA International Dark Sky Park.

“That’s quite an honour actually,” said Marshall.

READ MORE: Riverbank park dedicated in Fernie



jasper.myers@thefreepress.ca
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