COCHISE COUNTY, AZ (Tucson News Now) - As part of Arizona State Parks and Trails' mission to preserve and protect Arizona's natural resources, Kartchner Caverns State Park has been given the distinction of becoming an International Dark Sky Park, designated by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA).
To celebrate this achievement, Kartchner Caverns State Park will host a public event on Sept. 9, at 2 p.m. at the park.
Solar telescopes will be set up for public viewing and speakers will commemorate the designation. You can also view the page for Kartchner Caverns on the IDA website.
"We are so excited to have Kartchner Caverns State Park designated as a dark sky park," said Arizona State Parks and Trails Executive Director Sue Black. "This designation supports our mission to preserve and protect Arizona's natural resources."
Kartchner Caverns is the second state park in Arizona with this honor. Oracle State Park received the designation in 2014. The award-winning Dark Sky Places Program was started by IDA in 2001 to encourage communities around the world to preserve and protect dark sites through responsible lighting polices and public education.
"We welcome Arizona's Kartchner Caverns State Park as the world's newest International Dark Sky Park," said IDA Executive Director Scott Feierabend. "The team there has done a commendable job in protecting the park's night sky."
Strong support for dark-skies conservation presents an important opportunity to advance education and public outreach in Arizona, according to Dr. Bob Casavant, the Arizona State Parks and Trails manager of Natural Resources, Science, and Research. Since 2010, the parks have hosted popular Star Parties and Star Night programs. These family-based events attract families and park visitors from urban and rural settings across the state and region. Events include daytime solar viewing and interactions with astronomers, as well as early evening talks and dark sky viewing. Dark sky and daylight ecologies not only sustain each other, but are vital for supporting human health and culture.
"Prudent and committed community partnerships continue to assist Arizona State Parks and other resource management agencies in advancing conservation of Arizona's truly world-renowned night skies, and related landscapes of learning," Casavant stated.
Kartchner Caverns State Park has previously been awarded "Best Cave in the USA" and "Best Arizona Attraction" from USA Today Reader's Choice.