Big Bend National Park, located in Texas, is now a part of a dark sky reserve and is the world’s largest one yet. Additionally, it is the first-ever reserve that is international. It crosses the international border between Mexico and the US. The aim of creating this reserve was to minimize light pollution from spreading by practicing night-sky friendly actions. This entire reserve is about 40,000 sq km (more than 15,000 sq. miles) and could benefit the local communities, astronomers, wildlife, businesses, and tourists.
The McDonald Observatory University of Texas at Austin, National Park Service, the Nature Conservancy, International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), Texas Parks as well as the Wildlife Department, along with the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas, Mexico, and local businesses all came together to make this happen. The Superintendent at McDonald Observatory Teznie Pugh said that if it was not for all the support from different communities and organizations, this reserve would never have become a reality.
Years of Hard Work
Davis Mountain Preserve will be the core area of the reserve, which is the same place where McDonald Observatory is located. Stringent rules shall be applied to lights and minimizing light pollution shall be done without disrupting the lives of people living around this region. Taft Armandroff, the Director at the Observatory said that this reserve will protect not only scientific research but also public education goals at the Observatory. This observatory has been studying the cosmos, which includes topics like the planets that orbit nearby stars or how the universe is constantly expanding, since 1939.
All for Positive Outcomes
There are many benefits to this Dark Sky Reserve. The adoption of these lighting practices will help increase safety and decrease energy, without disrupting the life forms around (humans included). The director of conservation at IDA, Ashley Wilson, said that this was a historic moment. Decades of hard work will now be recognized to provide solutions that reduce the wasteful use of artificial light.