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Waterton, Glacier parks recognized for ‘dark skies’

A brilliant night sky arises over the bison paddock in Waterton Lakes National Park. Dark sky park. Photo by Chinara Adhofer/Parks Canada

Waterton Lakes and Glacier national parks received full certification as  International Dark Sky Parks, after meeting the International Dark Sky Association outdoor lighting requirements.

“The dark skies in the Waterton–Glacier International Peace Park truly are spectacular,” Parks Canada president and chief executive officer Ron Hallman said.

“Designation of the Peace Park as the world’s first international transboundary Dark Sky Park shows the world our commitment to protecting the environment, while offering opportunities for visitors to connect with nature, even at night.”

Waterton-Glacier International Dark Sky Park has installed dark sky-friendly lighting while ensuring lighting used is necessary for public safety.

These lights and fixtures reduce the harmful impacts of artificial lighting on wildlife, protect human health and preserve night skies for optimal viewing.

Parks Canada is adding to its reputation as an international leader in the preservation of night skies with this certification in Waterton Lakes.

In 2021, new LED streetlights were installed in Waterton Lakes in accordance with Parks Canada outdoor lighting guidelines and IDA standards.

This completed the requirements for certification as a dark sky park.

Waterton Lakes’ new streetlights feature a custom LED colour temperature, PC Amber (1650K).

Parks Canada will continue to replace park lighting with these new LEDs over time.

With this certification, Waterton Lakes joins 12 other Parks Canada-administered places with dark sky designations.

In Glacier National Park, new LED streetlights were installed in the West Glacier headquarters area and park residences received either new, dark sky-friendly fixtures and LED bulbs, or simply had the existing bulbs replaced.

Additionally, replacement fixtures have been purchased for the East Glacier, St. Mary, and many glacier areas of the park for installation later this year.

“Dark night skies are an important wilderness characteristic at Glacier National Park,” Glacier National Park acting superintendent Pete Webster said.

“Clearly seeing the expanse of the universe increases a person’s sense of solitude well beyond that of the terrestrial landscape. A Dark Skies designation aids International Peace Park visitors in finding their own wilderness solitude.”

Dark Sky Park certification helps raise awareness about light pollution and highlights how Waterton-Glacier International Dark Sky Park is reducing the impacts of outdoor lighting. It also provides opportunities for visitors to experience the night sky at its best in both parks.

Waterton Lakes National Park and Glacier National Park now hold four joint designations: International Peace Park, Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site, and the first transboundary IDA International Dark Sky Park.