Cass County looking to have park declared as a Dark Sky site

JONES — The Cass County Parks Department recently announced its intention to have Dr. T.K. Lawless Park recognized as a Dark Sky site as defined by the International Dark Sky Association.

Lawless Park is an 820-acre all-season jewel for outdoor enthusiasts. Biking trails, disc golf, fishing, cross-country skiing, softball fields, and pavilions for social gatherings are highlights of the park’s offerings. The attraction of wildlife and the beauty of nature also grace the park grounds.

To highlight and enhance that beauty, it is hoped that by attaining accreditation as a Dark Sky site, the artistry of the night sky can be preserved as a natural allure for the public to enjoy.

Standards provided by the IDSA will guide the process of obtaining Dark Sky status. Some of which include shaded lighting that is designed to focus illumination downward and eliminate its horizontal and upward escape. This action will limit in park light pollution thereby optimizing night sky viewing, according to Cass County officials.

In addition, the park will promote public education on curbing light pollution and its encroachment on the increasing loss of the natural night sky. This will include how biologists and the AMA have documented the harmful effects of light pollution on nocturnal wildlife and human health.

The wasteful energy use of over-illumination will also be presented. Public stargazing events will also offer astronomy education and opportunities to view the night sky through precision telescopes.

The goal of the parks department is to expand the elegance of nature to include the artistry of the night sky. By educating the public on the wastefulness and dangers of unchecked light pollution, it is hoped that the beauty of the heavens above will be promoted and preserved for generations, officials said.

More information can be obtained at the International Dark Sky site, darksky.org, or by contacting Robert Parrish at rbtparrish@comcast.net.

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