Visitors flock to West Virginia in search of many treasures, but one we don’t often think about is that our remote, unspoilt areas lend themselves to an escape from light pollution. For scientists and stargazers, this is precious and rare in this country.
Now Pocahontas County’s Watoga State Park has received recognition for its efforts to suppress light pollution. It has been recognized as a Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association.
The designation also includes Calvin Price State Forest and Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park.
According to a report by West Virginia Public Broadcasting, the Board of Directors of the Parks Foundation worked to achieve this designation. Since 2018, the group has replaced 150 outdoor lights, installed telescopes, and added stargazing events and wildlife education events that benefit from a dark-sky environment.
Watoga and the surrounding parks “not only represent the state of West Virginia in our Dark Sky Parks program, but also raise awareness of one of the largest and darkest skysheds in the eastern United States,” said Ruskin Hartley, director of the International Dark Sky Association .
Of course, it’s not the only place in the country with such potential. The Calhoun County Park Board of Directors is also working to earn the Dark Sky Park designation.
John Goodwin, executive chairman of the Watoga State Park Foundation, said, “There are now many new ways to study the sky and nocturnal creatures. This is a new and exciting time for the park and its visitors. The park can offer activities not only during the day, but now also at night.”
Congratulations to those who will help bring new visitors to West Virginia for reaching for the stars.