The 45,000-acre Curecanti National Recreation Area west of Gunnison became an officially designated dark sky park on Thursday.
It’s the first federally managed national rec area to receive International Dark Sky Association certification. National Park Service rangers take advantage of Curecanti’s exceptional darkness to run astronomy programs in the Elk Creek Campground.
Curecanti joined the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument west of Colorado Springs and the towns of Naturita, Nucla and Crestone in winning dark sky designations this year.
Dark sky advocates are working to establish two broader regional dark zones in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and west of the San Juan Mountains extending to the Utah border.
To get the dark sky status, communities must measure light levels, overhaul public lights to reduce glare and light trespass and persuade residents to dial back and redirect lights.
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