Arkansas gets its first dark sky park designation

Arkansas gets its first dark sky park designation

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Buffalo National River park has been designated as Arkansas's first International Dark Sky Park.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that park officials spent two years getting 345 light fixtures into compliance. It recently became the world's 71st dark sky park.

Mark Foust, who heads the park, says he hopes the designation can serve as an example for other parks in the region that want to partake in the process.

The park stretches along 135 miles (220 kilometers) of the Buffalo River. Park ranger Cassandra Johannsen says most of the 1.2 million visitors go to float the river, but that she has encountered people who visit exclusively for the night sky.

Bruce McMath, chairman of the Arkansas Natural Sky Association, says park rangers and amateur astronomers have developed impressive dark-sky programs.

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