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Tumacácori National Historical Park Becomes 100th Designated International Dark Sky Place

Tumacácori National Historical Park Becomes 100th Designated International Dark Sky Place Image

Stars of the constellations Cassiopeia and Andromeda rise over the ruins of Mission San José de Tumacácori in Tumacácori National Historical Park. Photo ©ARC Photography.

TUMACÁCORI, AZ – Tumacácori National Historical Park (NHP) is proud to announce it has received accreditation as the 100th designated International Dark Sky Place by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA).

Tumacácori NHP is honored to join 99 other International Dark Sky Places throughout the world in serving as a role model in the conservation of night skies. “Tumacácori has enjoyed a long history of night sky scholars and enthusiasts visiting the mission,” said park Superintendent, Bob Love. “Native people, astronomers like Father Kino, and settlers and cowboys who may have stopped to camp at the mission, all looked to the sky at night. Our designation as an International Dark Sky Park protects that experience for current and future generations.”

Tumacácori NHP is located in the mesquite highlands of southern Arizona, an area famous for its clear, dark nights. The park preserves the ruins of three early Spanish colonial missions. The largest unit, Tumacácori, is about 330 acres, and along with the mission includes more than a mile of the Santa Cruz River and a section of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail.

The park’s riparian environment with its associated cottonwood/willow forest and the surrounding desert scrublands provide shelter to more than 200 species of birds, various types of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and insects. Many of these animals depend on Earth’s daily cycle of light and dark. Light pollution can be detrimental to the diversity of the park.

IDA’s recognition program began in 2001 with the designation of Flagstaff, Arizona, as the world’s first International Dark Sky Place, and the first International Dark Sky Community. Awards are made competitively on the basis of a written nomination to IDA, and judged according to merits such as night sky quality and proactive efforts to promote the benefits of natural nighttime darkness.

“It’s especially appropriate that the 100th designation made in the seventeen-year history of International Dark Sky Places comes so close to home for IDA, as well as in the thirtieth year since our founding,” said IDA Executive Director J. Scott Feierabend. “Southern Arizona saw the origin of our movement in the 1980s, and its parks and municipalities remain in the vanguard of dark-skies conservation throughout the world.”

Tumacácori NHP is committed to setting an example of dark-sky conservation for the community. At the entrance to the Park, a publicly visible and interpreted lighting project informs visitors of the benefits of “IDA-Approved Dark Sky Friendly” lighting fixtures listed in the IDA’s Fixture Seal of Approval program.

Tumacácori NHP is eager to expand and cement the culture of night sky protection in the southern Arizona region by communicating the importance of dark skies to its surrounding community. Through nighttime events, such as Experience the Night, Bat Night, and Family Sleepovers, visitors learn how light pollution affects human health and safety, wastes energy, and disrupts the environment, wildlife, and ecosystems. For more information on events, go to nps.gov/tuma/planyourvisit/calendar.htm

Karen Krebbs, a researcher in the Park, said, “I have been carrying out bird and bat fieldwork at Tumacácori NHP for more than eight years. Tumacácori has always been special and the Dark Sky designation is an honor this unique park deserves! When I am working with park staff at night, I am amazed at the beauty of the sky and the endless stars and constellations. Everyone should experience the serenity and peacefulness at this amazing park. Congratulations to Tumacaácori NHP!”

About the IDA Dark Sky Places Program

IDA established the International Dark Sky Places conservation program in 2001 to recognize excellent stewardship of the night sky. Designations are based on stringent outdoor lighting standards and innovative community outreach. Since the program began, 18 Communities, 62 Parks, 12 Reserves, 4 Sanctuaries and 4 Dark Sky Friendly Developments of Distinction have been recognized with International Dark Sky Place designations. For more information about the International Dark Sky Places Program, visit darksky.org/idsp.

About IDA

The International Dark-Sky Association, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Tucson, Arizona, advocates for the protection of the nighttime environment and dark night skies by educating policymakers and the public about night sky conservation and promoting environmentally responsible outdoor lighting. More information about IDA, its mission and work may be found at darksky.org.

Media Inquiries

Tumacácori NHP

Anita Badertscher (Public Information Officer)

anita_badertscher@nps.gov

520-377-5063

 

Robert Love (Superintendent)

bob_love@nps.gov

520-377-5070

 

International Dark Sky Association

Amanda Gormley (Communications Director)

amanda@darksky.org

520-347-6365

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