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Voyageurs Park gets official 'dark-sky' certification

The national park and the Boundary Waters are the only Minnesota locations with this certification.

Voyageurs dark sky
A clear sky and little light pollution nearby reveal the Milky Way and much more over a Voyageurs National Park lake. The park has been offiicaly certified as an international "dark sky'' park. (Photo courtesy Voyageurs Conservancy)
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Voyageurs National Park has become the second Minnesota location to receive official “dark-sky’’ certification by an international group.

The International Dark-Sky Association and nonprofit Voyageurs Conservancy announced the certification Monday.

The certification recognizes Voyageurs National Park "for the exceptional quality of its dark night skies and for the park’s commitment to preserving darkness and educating the public about this outstanding resource."

The certification verifies Voyageurs as a great place to view constellations, northern lights and meteor showers.

“Voyageurs National Park has some of the darkest skies in the Midwest,” Bob DeGross, Voyageur’s superintendent, said in a statement. “We invite visitors to experience our spectacular night sky resource for themselves, winter or summer.”

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To qualify as a dark-sky park, Voyageurs’ staff developed a comprehensive lighting management plan, which identifies how the park will minimize impacts to the natural night by retrofitting existing exterior lighting at park facilities.

The News Tribune in September first reported that the million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness received official dark-sky certification, the first in Minnesota and the largest in the world.

Minnesota’s only national park, Voyageurs covers 218,000 mostly roadless acres along the Minnesota-Ontario border, much of it large lakes and most of it out of sight from urban lighting.

The International Dark-Sky Association is a nonprofit organization founded in 1988 with the goal of reducing light pollution and protecting night skies for the present and into the future. A dark-sky sanctuary is “public or private land that has an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is protected for its scientific, natural or educational value, its cultural heritage and/or public enjoyment.”

For more information on the International Dark-Sky Association, go to darksky.org/about .

Voyageurs National Park and Voyageurs Conservancy will celebrate the certification achievement with a virtual program on the Geminids meteor shower at voyageurs.org/events/geminids , hosted by News Tribune astronomy columnist Bob King , set for Tuesday.

John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at jmyers@duluthnews.com.
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