- Associated Press - Saturday, October 22, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Fourteen Utah state parks are applying to be listed as International Dark Sky Parks in an effort to preserve and promote starry nights that attract tourists.

More than a fourth of Utah’s 43 state parks are pursuing dark sky certification, reported the Deseret News (https://bit.ly/2eFjHtL).

Goblin Valley and Dead Horse Point were recently certified.

Utah State Parks recreation interpretation resource manager Justina Parsons-Bernstein says applications take about two years.

“It will absolutely be a draw,” Parsons-Bernstein said. “The more we get to be known as this giant dark sky preserve, you bet it will be a huge economic boom to the Utah tourism industry.”

Parsons-Bernstein said much of Utah has the altitude, dry weather and distance from urban growth that facilitate the best dark-sky views.

“It’s so important to preserve these areas where you can still see these deep, dark skies,” she said.

An International Dark Sky Association representative recently evaluated five parks.

“There’s something very valuable about these urban-adjacent parks in that you have a large number of people in the Salt Lake City area who have ready access to all these state parks out here,” said John Barentine of the association. “It’s important that some of the dark sky parks be located within short distance of cities to maximize the number of people who can come and see what that’s like.”

He said the group is working with the National Park Service and Utah State Parks to plan dark sky management just like parks are monitored for air and water quality.

“The awareness here is better than it is in much of the rest of the country. It’s connected to Utah’s position in the West, and I think just a more general appreciation of the outdoors and the value of nature,” he said. “It’s a very different attitude than we encounter in the eastern U.S., for example.”

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Information from: Deseret News, https://www.deseretnews.com


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