What is a Dark Sky Preserve?
Darks Sky Preserves are areas designated by RASC that control light pollution, that offer public observing sites for quality night sky viewing, and that have active and engaging public outreach programs about astronomy and light control. They also demonstrate leadership in light control within their facilities and the types of lights that are used.
The goal of DSP program is “… to promote the reduction in light pollution, demonstrate night-time lighting practices, improve the nocturnal environment of wildlife, protect and expand dark observing sites for astronomy, and provide accessible locations for the general public to experience the naturally dark night sky.”
It is clear that the objectives of the DSP program are directly in line with key mandate items of Parks Canada – protection, education, public outreach, and great visitor experience.
Kejimkujik is an ideal DSP: in the centre of the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve, it is part of the largest protected wilderness in the Maritimes. Viewed on light maps of eastern North America, it is in one of the darkest locations.
Kejimkujik has great visitor facilities that are accessible year round, with various camping opportunities and an outdoor theatre. It also has excellent education staff already in place.
Kejimkujik has dual designation as a national park and a national historic site, celebrating a Mi’kmaw cultural landscape. The Kejimkujik DSP will have a strong Mi’kmaw cultural connection that highlights cultural beliefs, legends, and folklore.
What does the Kejimkujik DSP look like?
The Kejimkujik DSP is made up of 1) key observing sites, 2) a DSP core area, and 3) a buffer area that surrounds and protects the core area (see map). The Core Area is free of light pollution and includes the bulk of the wilderness of Kejimkujik. It has the highest quality night skies.
The Buffer Area protects the core area, and includes main park facilities. It will adhere to a detailed lighting strategy aimed at reducing energy consumption and light pollution.
The Public Observing Sites are all within the Core Area:
- Jeremy’s Bay primary observing site is located near the campground, and will be the main hub of visitor experience activities and programs.
- Merrymakedge Beach and the Eel Wier are secondary observing sites with strong cultural and Mi’kmaw connections.
- For true wilderness dark sky viewing, Kejimkujik has 45 backcountry campsites where you can experience the glory of a starry night in the wilderness and solitude of Keji.
Parks Canada has identified remedial actions for problem lights in park facilities. Low cost, innovative strategies will control light pollution and reduce energy costs, but maintain safety and security:
- timers and motion detectors
- LED, full cut-off fixtures for street lights and buildings
- Reflective signage
- Screened vending machines
- Low lighting for walkways with waist-high bollard lighting instead of overhead lighting.
Some lights have already been changed in Kejimkujik. Other changes will be implemented over the coming years. In this way, Keji is working to protect forever the dark skies of this area, and ensure the ability to sit by a lake and watch the wonder of the stars above and their reflections in the lake below.