A WORLD PREMIER! The International Dark Sky Reserve of Mont-Mégantic

2007-09-21, from Member
Notre-Dame-des-Bois, the 20th of September 2007 - The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) awarded the status of International Dark Sky Reserve (IDSR) to the regional county municipalities of Granit and Haut-Saint-François and of the City of Sherbrooke in Québec Province, Canada. The presentation came during a press conference held this morning at Mt. Mégantic National Park in Québec Province.

The vice president of IDA’s board of directors, Christian Monrad, presented the certification to:

„§ Bernard Malenfant, president of ASTROLab of Mont-Mégantic
„§ Pierre Goulet, director of Mont-Mégantic National Park
„§ René Doyon, director of the Mont-Mégantic Observatory
„§ Robert Lamontagne, director of the Mont-Mégantic Observatory
„§ Ginette Dupuis, substitute prefect of the regional county municipality of Granit, Quebec „§ Martin Mailhot, substitute prefect of the regional county municipality of Haut-Saint-François, Quebec
㤠Jean Perrault, mayor of the City of Sherbrooke, Quebec

The International Dark Sky Reserve of Mt-Mégantic has an area of 5,500 km2, with the Observatory and the National Park of Mt. Mégantic at its heart.

The IDSR was created to preserve night sky quality and ensure the sustainability of education and research activities at the Mt-Mégantic Observatory, the most important astronomy and astrophysics research center in Canada. Moreover, the creation of the IDSR will heighten tourist activities at the ASTROLab of Mt-Mégantic National Park while enhancing the beauty of nightscapes for all citizens.

Dark sky certification was possible because of an action plan that presented an efficient way to manage outdoor lighting. The regulations that have been adopted by the 34 municipalities of the reserve have contributed to the control and limited growth of area light pollution, which had doubled over the past 20 years. Furthermore, the financial support offered by the three levels of governments (municipal, provincial, and federal) and by Hydro-Québec have permitted the replacement of approximately 2500 lighting fixtures; this has reduced area light pollution by 25% and reduce energy consumption by 1.3 gwh/yr.

This unique project has contributed to the development of a new regional expertise in outdoor lighting management. The project could become a model for many industrialised countries seeking compromise between outdoor lighting needs and general concerns about energy efficiency and nightscape preservation.

In order to underline the creation of the International Dark Sky Reserve of Mt-Mégantic, a prominent sign has been installed at the entrance to Mt-Megantic National Park, which is along the road that leads up to the observatory. Eventually, other similar signs will be installed strategically in the area as a reminder of the importance of protecting a world heritage site that is disappearing – our starry nights and our access to the universe!

At the end of the press conference, Bernard Malenfant, the president of the ASTROLab, underlined the tremendous support given by those living close to Mt-Mégantic who has willingly replaced all their lighting fixtures, whether at their homes, their industries, their stores, their institutions, or their municipalities. By doing so, they have clearly shown their attachment to the observatory, the park, and the beauty of our starry nights.

International Dark Sky Association (IDA)

The International Dark-Sky Association, an educational, environmental nonprofit, is dedicated to protecting and preserving the nighttime environment and our heritage of dark skies through quality outdoor lighting. With over 11,000 members in more than 70 countries, IDA is the leading authority concerning the problems and solutions related to light pollution.

International Dark Sky Reserve:

The IDA defines an International Dark Sky Reserve as a public or private land possessing an exceptional or great quality of starry nights and nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural, heritage and/or public enjoyment mission on a large peripheral area. The Dark Sky Reserve consists of a core area meeting the minimum criteria for sky quality and natural darkness, and a peripheral area that supports dark sky values in the core and benefits from them, as well. The Dark Sky Reserve is formed through a partnership of multiple land owners/administrators that have recognized the value of the starry night through regulation and/or formal agreement and/or long term planning.

Source:
Chloé Legris
Project manager
ASTROLab of Mont-Mégantic
(819) 888-2941 # 228

 
 

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