DEL RIO— Devils River State Natural Area has been designated an International Dark Sky Sanctuary by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), making it the only Dark Sky Sanctuary in Texas. As the sixth International Dark Sky Sanctuary to receive the title, Devils River SNA is recognized as a one of the darkest and most ecologically fragile sites in the world.
“We cannot be more thrilled about Devils River SNA’s designation as the first International Dark Sky Sanctuary in Texas,” says Rodney Franklin, Director of Texas State Parks. “The addition of Devils River as the fifth Dark Sky Place recognized in the Texas State Park system is a great testament to our staff’s dedication and commitment to keeping the wild places of Texas truly wild.”
Sanctuaries are typically found in very remote locations with few nearby threats to the quality of its dark night skies. With limited access for recreation, the IDA designation will help preserve the night skies and natural landscape of Devils River SNA.
Joining Big Bend Ranch State Park, Copper Breaks State Park, South Llano River State Park and Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, Devils River SNA is the fifth park to hold a prestigious IDA designation in the Texas State Park system.
“This designation brings further awareness to the Devils River and its surrounding landscapes as irreplaceable resources that should be preserved for future generations to appreciate,” says Joe Joplin, complex superintendent of Devils River State Natural Area. “Increased urban and industrialization of the state makes it important, now more than ever, to consider how we can maintain what remains of wild and open Texas.”
Located in southwest Texas, Devils River SNA is far from cities and is home to one of the most pristine rivers in the state. The state natural area lies in the cross section of three ecological regions making it a biologically diverse habitat for plants, fish and native wildlife, including a rare salamander and several protected fish species.
With a rating of a 2 on the Bortle Dark-Sky Scale, Devils River’s sky is dark enough to see the Milky Way and other astronomical clusters. The scale ranges from Class 1, the darkest skies available on Earth, through Class 9, inner-city skies, and measures how well astronomical objects can be seen in the night sky.
“Devils River SNA allows visitors to experience the wonders of the cosmos in an increasingly light polluted world,” says Adam Dalton, Dark Sky Places Program Manager for the IDA. “As Texas’ first International Dark-Sky Sanctuary, Devils River SNA enjoys some of the clearest and starriest night skies in the continental United States. Owing to the Area’s commitment to mitigating light pollution, the Devils River serves as a model for dark-sky conservation within the Texas State Parks system.”
The IDA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Tucson, Arizona, which advocates for the protection of the nighttime environment and dark night skies. It does so by educating policymakers and the public about night sky conservation and through the promotion of environmentally responsible outdoor lighting. The IDA established the International Dark Sky Places conservation program in 2001 to recognize excellent stewardship of the night sky. Designations are based on stringent outdoor lighting standards and innovative community outreach. Currently, more than 100 sites are recognized with International Dark Sky Places designations.
More information about the IDA, its mission and work may be found at http://www.darksky.org. Also visit http://darksky.org/idsp find out more about the International Dark Sky Places conservation program.
For more information about the Dark Skies Program at Texas State Parks, visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s website.
Anyone who wishes to visit the park can find information about accessibility on Devils River SNA’s park page.