Saturday, March 23, 2019

Virginia is Now Home to Three IDA-Designated Dark Sky Parks 

It has been an eventful spring with much to celebrate!  In just the past couple weeks two Virginia parks have formally announced their designation as Silver Tier Dark Sky Parks. 

James River State Park in Gladstone (Buckingham County) is Virginia's second state park to meet this goal. 
Rappahannock County Park in "Little" Washington is the first local park in Virginia to seek and accomplish Dark Sky Park status.  

Virginia IDA members Laura Graham, Laura Greenleaf, and Patricia Rostkowski actively supported these efforts with Graham and Rostkowski providing on-site visits and assistance.

For James River State Park's application and press release, please visit here
For Rappahannock County Park's application and press release, please visit here

Virginia Outdoors Plan Now Recognizes Dark Skies as Scenic Resource

Every five years the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation produces an updated comprehensive plan for land conservation, outdoor recreation, and open space planning known as the Virginia OutdoorsPlan.  Government agencies, nonprofits, and the private sector look to the Virginia Outdoors Plan for guidance in meeting the needs of communities throughout the commonwealth,  Participation in the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund program requires such a state plan and the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation also turns to the VOP for direction.

For the first time in its history, the Virginia Outdoors Plan includes dark night skies in its Scenic Resources chapter and a dedicated appendix on Natural Nightscapes and Dark Skies.  Virginia IDA's Laura Greenleaf began working with DCR staff in 2016 to address the need for inclusion of night sky conservation in the new VOP.  Janit Llewellyn and Robbie Rhur of DCR (Janit has since moved on to Chesterfield County Parks and Rec) were instrumental in championing this effort and seeing it through the long VOP process. Many thanks to them both!

Find the entire Virginia Outdoors Plan here. Chapter 10: Scenic Resources and Appendix 10: Dark Skies.