The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) said the designation for the park recognises its “strong commitment to preserving nighttime ecosystems and educating visitors about light pollution.”
Dark-Sky Preserves (DSP) are protected areas that make a special commitment to protect and preserve the night, reducing or eliminating light pollution in all forms. They have exceptional night-sky reading and host astronomy programmes. They also serve to preserve nighttime darkness and protect ecosystems with nocturnal animals.
Many plants, wildlife and insects rely on darkness to forage, breed and navigate so protecting the dark sky not only provides a magical experience for visitors but also protects ecosystems.
Located 110 miles west of Winnipeg, Spruce Woods features spruce trees, lakes and rivers, prairie grassland and a desert-like area with shifting sand dunes. The Spirit Sands were once a sacred site of the Cree. It has hiking trails and can also be experienced on a horse-drawn covered wagon or via canoe and paddleboat rentals on the Assiniboine River.
For overnight stays, the park is home to the Kitchen Manitou Campground, which is especially popular with families. In addition to sites for tents and RVs, yurts are also rented.
Thirteen of Canada’s dark sky preserves are in the country’s national parks. These include Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan, Canada’s ‘darkest’ Dark-Sky Preserve, and Wood Buffalo National Park, Alberta, the largest Dark-Sky Preserve in the world.
Also numbered among Canada’s collection of Dark-Sky Preserves are Jasper National Park (Alberta), Fundy National Park (New Brunswick), Terra Nova National Park (Newfoundland and Labrador) and Killarney Provincial Park (Ontario).
Photo by Sheila Wiwchar