ORCHARD, Colo. (CBS4) – Jackson Lake State Park in Morgan County has been designated as an International Dark Sky Park. It is the eighth location in Colorado to receive the designation — and one of just 95 in the United States.
“It’s so exciting,” said Park Ranger Amy Brandenburg, who led Jackson Lake’s application process with the International Dark Sky Places (IDSP) program. “It is a very challenging process, and they do not take things lightly.”
During the process, the park worked with the Northern Colorado Astronomical Society and with Mile High Astronomy, an astronomy shop in Denver. Mile High Astronomy helped the park get a Celestron telescope at a reduced price.
“It’s a fantastic telescope, it self-aligns and it has a cool keypad, so if you want to see Saturn, you just pick Saturn, and it will find it automatically in the sky,” Brandenburg said.
To qualify for the designation, park officials worked to eliminate large street lamps from the park and update light fixtures in the park itself.
In addition to reducing energy consumption, officials said there are many benefits for wildlife.
“We found that we’ve had less interruptions from mosquitoes,” Brandenburg said. “It gives a chance to host species, like bats, that really rely on a dark night sky. Most waterfowl actually migrate at night. They use the stars and travel during the nighttime hours.”
Jackson Lake State Park is located in Orchard, Colorado, approximately an hour-and-a-half northeast of Denver.
The other International Dark Sky Parks in Colorado are the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Dinosaur National Monument, the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, and Hovenweep National Monument. The International Dark Sky Cities in Colorado are Norwood, Ridgway, Westcliffe and Silver Cliff.