Oregon Now Has its First “Dark Sky Park”

Securing a Dark Sky Park designation is a rigorous process that requires minimal light pollution.

web_CrookedRiver Crooked River near Prineville Resevoir. (Shannon Gormley)

Oregon has a new destination for stargazers and amateur astronomers.

Prineville Reservoir State Park is now Oregon’s first Dark Sky Park, a designation awarded by the International Dark Sky Association to locations with minimal light pollution.

“The park offers a genuine night-sky experience for those coming from light polluted cities,” Bill Kowalik, chair of the Oregon chapter of the International Dark Sky Association, said in a press release. “Formal recognition of this International Dark Sky Park, located in rapidly growing Central Oregon, will help to educate the public and decision makers about Iight pollution and the value of the night sky to people and to our greater wild ecosystem.”

Last summer, Sunriver, Ore., was deemed an International Dark Sky Place. But securing a Dark Sky Park designation is a rigorous process that requires the least amount light pollution. In order to qualify, park staff has to replace the reservoir’s outdoor lights with low-pollution red and yellow bulbs.

Located at near the Oregon Badlands on the Crooked River, the Prineville Reservoir is one of 101 Dark Sky Parks worldwide.

Related: The Oregon Badlands Are Vast, Desolate and Stunningly Beautiful.

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