Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Natural Heritage: Dark Sky Reserve

This year marks the Centennial anniversary of Parks Canada. This anniversary seems to have contributed to a recent increase in media coverage of natural heritage sites and events. As a result of this inspiration, I've decide to start a series of blogs focusing on Canada's rich natural heritage.

After some debate, I decided that this first post should feature a unique park which is rich in both heritage and forward thinking initiatives. The Jasper National Park in Alberta, is the largest most northerly located park in the Canadian Rockies. The park includes a range of natural and man made heritage features such as: the Sunwapta Falls, the Athabasca Glacier, the Yellowhead Pass, and Jasper House.

Additionally, in March 2011 Jasper was officially designated as a 'dark sky preserve.' This designation means that light usage within the preserve is restricted as a means of preserving a natural dark sky. Currently, Jasper is the largest dark sky preserve in the world. Jasper is also the only dark sky preserve in Canada to encompass a town. More information on Canada's other dark sky preserves can be found here.

Prior to learning about Jasper's designation as a dark sky preserve, I had no idea that such a designation even existed. Furthermore, the idea of the sky being something in need of preserving hadn't really crossed my mind --granted, I'm a bit spoiled by living in rural Northern Ontario which has by most people's standards dark skies. However, considering the ever expanding cities and the rate at which light pollution is generated, Jasper's substantial dark sky preserve is a significant step towards preserving natural heritage that is endanger of being lost to development.

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