West Virginia’s Watoga State Park has been designated as a Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association.
It is the first site in West Virginia to get the designation, which comes with opportunities for astronomy tourism and nocturnal wildlife observation, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported.
The Watoga State Park Foundation’s board of directors had been seeking the designation since 2018. They replaced 150 outdoor light fixtures, installed telescopes and added stargazing events as well as educational events on wildlife that benefits from a dark sky environment, officials said.
The parks “not only represent the state of West Virginia in our Dark Sky Parks program, but are also raising awareness for one of the largest and darkest skysheds within the eastern United States, “said Ruskin Hartley, Director of the International Dark Sky Association.
Calvin Price State Forest and Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park, which are managed by Watoga, are included in the designation.
“Many new opportunities now exist to study the heavens and nocturnal creatures,” park foundation board President John Goodwin said in a statement. “This is a new and exciting time for the park and its visitors. Not only can the park offer activities during the day but now they can offer activities at night.”