The Lake Fork Valley Conservancy’s (LFVC) application to designate the 58-acre Slumgullion Center was approved by the International Dark-Sky Association. The Slumgullion Center is in Hinsdale County, near Lake City. The head writer for the application was LFVC’s Executive Director, Camille Richard. She was assisted by the LFVC board and staff as well help from local photographer Michael Underwood and amateur astronomer Phillip Virden, who was the initiator of this endeavor.
“We are blessed in Lake City and Hinsdale County to have extraordinary dark skies for viewing the remarkable wonders of our star-filled universe,” remarked Phillip Virden. “We want to do everything possible to preserve this unique setting for our children, grandchildren, and for all future generations who live and visit here.”
“[The] announcement is a thrilling one,” stated International Dark-Sky Association Executive Director Ruskin Hartley. “This designation demonstrates the commitment that Lake Fork Valley Conservancy has made to protecting the night and we applaud their efforts.”
Currently, the Slumgullion Center Dark Sky Park is undeveloped with no lighting. All future development will meet the standards set by the IDA to prevent light pollution. LFVC is planning to coordinate small group stargazing sessions at the Center starting next summer. Additionally, astronomy program plans are in the works up on Slumgullion Pass and in town utilizing the Lake City Community School’s portable planetarium (which was donated to the school by the University of Colorado).
LFVC and the Town of Lake City are part of a regional partnership with several Colorado organizations and communities who are promoting dark sky awareness in the state, such as the Great Sand Dunes National Park, Black Canyon Astronomical Society, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Colorado Tourism Office, Colorado Stargazing, the Gunnison Observatory, and the towns of Creede, Crestone, Westcliffe, Silver Cliff, La Veta, Cuchara, Ridgway, Norwood, and Naturita.
In partnership with the Audubon Society, IDA Colorado is working on a “Lights Out Colorado” program to help migratory birds. This would greatly expand the current “Lights Out Denver” program. The details of the new program are still being discussed. The tentative plan is to publicly announce the program in early 2021.
Richard OBrien (IDA Colorado), Dr. Kyle Horton (Colorado State University), and Zach Hutchinson (Audubon Rockies) are leading conversations with Audubon chapters in the Front Range Urban Corridor area. If you would like to know more or help, please contact Richard (email@example.com).
A discussion session was held November 11 with the Arkansas Valley Audubon Society (Pueblo).
CBS Denver featured a description of Colorado’s eight dark sky places.
Colorado Dark Sky Parks
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Dinosaur National Monument
Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve
Hovenweep National Monument
Jackson Lake State Park
Colorado Dark Sky Communities
Westcliffe & Silver Cliff
Congratulations to all involved in helping recognize these places.
Jackson Lake State Park in Morgan County has been designated as an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association, becoming just the fifth park and eighth total location in Colorado to receive the designation and the only site located east of I-25.
Jackson Lake State Park is located in Orchard, Colorado, adjacent to the South Platte River, approximately an hour-and-a-half northeast of Denver. The park boasts 260 campsites, hiking trails, world class water recreation and fishing, a diverse wildlife population and 5,295 acres of land and water to explore.
“It’s so exciting,” said Park Ranger Amy Brandenburg, who led Jackson Lake’s application process with the IDSP program. “It’s a new opportunity for visitors to come out and enjoy Jackson Lake.”
“We worked with Morgan County Rural Electric Association to eliminate the large street lamps from the park and then we also did a ton of updates and elimination to the fixtures in the park itself,” Brandenburg said. “On the bathroom buildings, we removed, or changed out fixtures to be dark sky compliant. Inside of the bathrooms we also put the lighting in the shower houses on motion sensors.”
“The dedication that Amy, the Jackson Lake State Park staff, volunteers and donors have put in motion over the past four years is incredible and the transformation of their park is truly inspiring,” said Ryan Parker, IDA Colorado Chapter Chairman. “Jackson Lake is graced with dark nighttime skies, which have brought many amateur and expert astronomers to the park. Guests can take advantage of the vast, open night skies of the prairie individually, or through interpretive programs offered within the park.”