Nature

The Stars at Night Are Bigger and Brighter at Big Bend Ranch State Park

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The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) are proud to announce that Big Bend Ranch State Park (BBRSP) has been designated as an International Dark Sky Park. It is the fourth Texas State Park to receive the honor, joining neighboring Big Bend National Park, which received IDA accreditation in 2012. Together, they form one of the largest contiguous areas under dark-skies protection in the United States.

An Important Step in Conservation of Dark Night Skies

Big Bend Ranch State Park

Photo: Facebook/BigBendRanchSP (Morteza Safataj)

“Big Bend Ranch State Park’s achievement in becoming an IDA International Dark Sky Park is an important step forward in the conservation of some of the darkest night skies remaining in the lower 48 states.,” said IDA Executive Director J. Scott Feierabend. “Along with neighboring Big Bend National Park, we have now secured the protection of natural nighttime darkness over an area larger than the U.S. state of Rhode Island.”

BBRSP Worked Hard for This Accreditation

Under the stars

Photo: Facebook/BigBendRanchSP (Rachel Veale)

As part of its certification effort, the BBRSP inventoried and assessed the condition of all outdoor lighting in the park, created an effective management plan for current and future lighting installations, and developed a program to educate park visitors and area residents about the importance of dark night skies and the benefits of quality outdoor lighting. Additionally, BBRSP has invested in its staff, offering professional development opportunities and materials related to dark skies.

Join The Dark Sky Steward Program

camper
Photo: Facebook/BigBendRanchSP (Mandy Lea)

As part of its dark-sky initiative, BBRSP will launch a Dark Sky Steward program as a way to involve the public in helping monitor the condition of the park’s night skies over time. The program enlists volunteers with an interest or expertise in astronomy and/or astrophotography to gather observations of the night sky from various locations in the park. The observations and images generated by our volunteers will be used to track the quality of the night sky, as well as for promotional and educational purposes in interpretive and outreach programs. The park will host an event to celebrate our designation in the near future. To learn more about the Dark Sky Steward Program, visit the Dark Skies Program website.

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