ARIZONA STATE PARKS: For Immediate Release
Managing and conserving Arizona’s natural, cultural and recreational resources for the benefit of the people, both in our Parks and through our Partners. FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Ellen Bilbrey at (602) 542-1996 or (602) 228-8518 or Monica Enriquez at (602) 542-6997. Contact by Email: pio(at)azstateparks.gov

Oracle State Park Going for International Dark Sky Park Designation

(Phoenix, Arizona - May 29, 2014) - Arizona State Parks, in collaboration with the Friends of Oracle State Park and the recently formed Oracle Dark Skies Committee, announces that it is pursuing an "International Dark Sky Park" (IDSP) designation at Oracle State Park in Oracle, Arizona.

The designation, when awarded by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), headquartered in Tucson, Arizona, will make Oracle State Park the first Arizona State Park to be so honored. The IDA defines IDSP sites as "a park or other public land possessing exceptional starry skies and natural nocturnal habitat where light pollution is mitigated and natural darkness is valuable as an important educational, cultural, scenic, and natural resources." The IDA IDSP Program has three tiers to designate the quality of night skies. Gold is the highest award representing the darkest skies, followed by the Silver and Bronze designations.

Light pollution comes from lighting that is aimed horizontally or upward, is unshielded, brighter than it needs to be, and/or shines beyond where and when it is needed. Light pollution not only impacts the science of astronomy (an important business in Arizona), but can cause documented negative impacts on wildlife, the environment and human health. Light pollution wastes over $2 billion a year in unnecessary energy costs in the United States.

As part of its work to have Oracle State Park nominated for the designation, the Oracle Dark Skies Committee is reaching out to local residents, business owners and government offices to reduce or eliminate local sources of light pollution. Everyone can help Oracle State Park "Go for the Gold."

Oracle State Park is located northeast of Tucson in the northern foothills of the Catalina Mountains. The Park is a 4,000-acre wildlife refuge, environmental education center and day-use recreation park. The Park features a diversity of animals, plant species and rock formations. There are also oak tree-shaded washes, mesquite scrub habitats and riparian woodlands with manzanita and beargrass.

On weekdays, the park has school programs by reservation by calling (520) 896-2425 and on weekends is open for hiking, offers tours of the Kannally Ranch House and holds events. Group facilities are also available for weddings and other group gatherings. The Park Entrance Fee is $7 per vehicle for up to four adults. For more information about Oracle State Park call (520) 896-2425 or visit AZStateParks.com/parks/ORAC.

For more information about the Dark Sky designation, contact Mike Weasner, Chair, Oracle Dark Skies Committee, mweasner(at)mac.com or call (520) 289-3402. Find out more about the IDA "International Dark Sky Park" Program.

For information about all 27 Arizona State Parks, the Trails and Off-Highway Vehicle Programs and State Historic Preservation Office call (602) 542-4174 (outside of the Phoenix metro area call toll-free (800) 285-3703). Campsite or cave tour reservations can be made online at AZStateParks.com or by calling the Reservation Call Center at (520) 586-2283. Open 7 days a week, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. MST. Follow AZStateParks on Twitter and Facebook.

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