July 18, 2009
MOUNT CARLETON (CNB) - A provincial park in northwest New Brunswick will soon be designated a Dark Sky Preserve, Tourism and Parks Minister Stuart Jamieson announced today. Jamieson made the announcement at Mount Carleton Provincial Park, which will receive the designation at the request of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.
The designation recognizes the park and several surrounding protected natural areas as perfect places to observe and enjoy the night sky because of limited artificial lighting.
"The spectacular viewing opportunity offered to stargazers is just one of many natural attributes that Mount Carleton has to offer visitors, and is why our government is committed to working with the local community to enable this park to achieve its full potential," said Jamieson.
Jamieson was at the park to participate in Canada's Parks Day celebrations, which this year coincides with the International Year of Astronomy, a worldwide commemoration of the four hundredth anniversary of Galileo first using a telescope to look into the sky.
Mount Carleton will be the first provincial park in New Brunswick to receive designation as a Dark Sky Preserve. The Kouchiboguac National Park received the designation on June 6, 2009. Combined, the two parks will make New Brunswick a world leader, with more than 53,000 hectares of dark skies preserved, second to Alberta, which has more than 68,000 hectares preserved.
"Astronomers from around the province have been coming to Mount Carleton Provincial Park for almost 10 years, as it has the darkest skies in New Brunswick," said Paul Gray, past president of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. "These dark skies allow us to see more objects in the night sky, and see them in more detail. Having Mount Carleton as a Dark Sky Preserve provides educational opportunities through the visitor centre, brochures, talks and astronomy outreach at the park to teach about light pollution and how it affects the environment."
While at the park, Jamieson toured renovations presently underway to upgrade the campground facilities and historic cabins. Since 2007, the Department of Tourism and Parks has invested almost $2 million to upgrade trails, cabins, campsites and other facilities.
At almost 17,500 hectares, Mount Carleton is the largest of nine provincial parks in New Brunswick, and attracts about 10,000 - 12,000 visitors annually.
MEDIA CONTACT: Paul Harpelle, Department of Tourism and Parks, 506-444-4454, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.