Oregon in spotlight after dark skies recognition

Oregon in spotlight after dark skies recognition

Oregon’s reputation as one of the world’s leading dark skies destinations has been reinforced by a new recognition from DarkSky International.

In early March a 2.5-million-acre area of southeastern Oregon was certified as an International Dark Sky Sanctuary by DarkSky International, making it the world’s largest Dark Sky Sanctuary to date.

The Sanctuary, which is approximately one-half the size of New Jersey and is located within an area commonly referred to as the Oregon Outback, has committed to protect its starry night skies for the benefit of visitors, residents, and wildlife.

Oregon’s Outback is located within the largest, contiguous, pristine dark sky zone in the lower 48 states, and this certification helps to protect a large portion of the designated zone.

The sanctuary is a priority habitat for an array of wildlife, including American pronghorn, bighorn sheep, sage grouse, white-tailed jackrabbit, and migratory birds navigating the Pacific Flyway. The region is also culturally significant and is home to a 13,000-year-old human occupation site. Dispersed within the OOIDSS are hot springs, wild horses, private rangelands, ranches, and cattle.

A Dark Sky Sanctuary is a certification given by the DarkSky International to 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.

To qualify as a Dark Sky Sanctuary, the area must meet strict criteria for sky quality, commit to protecting the night sky through responsible lighting practices, and provide public outreach. These sanctuaries provide opportunities for stargazing, astrophotography, and other night-time activities that benefit from minimal light pollution.

traveloregon.com

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