International Dark Sky Sanctuary
49476 FM 2627 Hwy
Alpine, TX 79830
Black Gap Wildlife Management Area (BGWMA or WMA) encompasses approximately 103,000 acres with relatively little development. The property is administered by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) for the purpose of wildlife research, conservation, and management. It is geographically bounded by vast expanses of undeveloped private ranch land to the north and west and Big Bend National Park (BBNP) to the south and west. The eastern boundary follows roughly 25 miles of the Rio Grande River along the US/Mexico border just north of the La Linda International Bridge. The nearest populated cities are Marathon (population 430; 2010 census) and Alpine (population 5,905; 2010 census) to the north. The unincorporated community of Terlingua/Study Butte is situated between BBNP and Big Bend Ranch State Park (BBRSP). Both parks are IDA Dark Sky Parks and together represent one of the largest contiguous areas of protected night skies in the United States.
In recognition of the importance of continued preservation of the dark skies in the Big Bend region and at BGWMA, WMA management has adopted an outdoor lighting strategy that follows recommendations outlined in Guidelines for Outdoor Lighting in Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Dark-sky Preserves and IDA Dark Sky Places adopted by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada(RASC). Additionally, in partnership with Big Bend Ranch State Park, the BGWMA management team is committed to dark sky conservation and recognizes the importance of dark sky preservation. Black Gap’s philosophy is that the night sky should be managed just as the natural and cultural resources of the land, and their goal is to preserve the night skies through public education, outreach, and interpretive programs, on and off-site. Through collaborative efforts, Black Gap and its partners can cast a wide net to provide the public with the tools necessary to become active participants in the international dark sky movement in this region and beyond.