In October, Representative Pettalia (R-Presque Isle) introduced House Bill 5023 to add three new Dark Sky Preserves in Northeast Michigan. The legislation will designate Thompson’s Harbor State Park, Rockport State Recreation Area, and Negwegon State Park as Dark Sky Preserves. Today, the bill moved out of its Senate committee and now requires a full Senate vote.
Editor’s Note (May 16): This bill became law as Public Act 11 of 2016.
So what is a Dark Sky Preserve? Michigan law requires that any park area which has been given Dark Sky Preserve status ensure that all outdoor lighting fixtures to be shielded or constructed so there is little to no light interference for activities such as amateur astronomy, stargazing, and nighttime photography.
“Implementing the Dark Sky rules at these locations creates potential for added tourism activity once you can advertise and attract visitors seeking these simple, unique experiences,” said Pettalia, R-Presque Isle. “While the facilities may be able to save some money on utility costs, the larger benefit is providing local residents with a Dark Sky experience closer to home and other visitors with additional opportunities throughout the state, since part of the idea is for a low-density, low-impact activity.”
The Rockport State Recreation Area is located in Presque Isle and Alpena counties; Negwegon State Park stretches across the border of Alpena and Alcona counties; and Thompson’s Harbor State Park is located in Presque Isle County.
Michigan’s Dark Sky Preserve program is not to be confused with the International Dark Sky Park program. They are different. Although Michigan is home to one of the first ever 10 International Dark Sky Parks at the Headlands in Emmet County.
If you’re interested in reading the legislation, see House Bill 5023.
Photo Credit: Muskegon Chronicle