Oregon’s Outback Could Be Designated Largest “Dark Sky Place” In The World

LAKE COUNTY, Ore. — Years in the making, Oregon Outback Dark Sky Network has now submitted an application to DarkSky.org to be recognized as the largest Dark Sky on Earth.

Pinpointing 2.5 million acres of land in eastern Lake County – about 100 miles east of Crater lake, the Outback International Dark Sky Sanctuary would increase to 11.4 million acres if approved, which would make it the largest designated dark sky place in the world.

In an application that ultimately ran 220 pages long, to achieve the intended status, the submission needed an in-depth analysis of light pollution in the surrounding area with proof of dark skies in the form of photographs. To demonstrate continued protection against light pollution, a light management plan was also included.

Spearheading the initiative, the executive director of Travel Southern Oregon, Bob Hackett, has been working on the project for over three years. He indicated that the thorough collaborative process resulted in an application process that took a very long time.

Framed to promote increased tourism, helping boost local economies, Hackett confirmed that the plan need approval on many levels.  The Bureau of Land Management, the  U.S. Forests Department, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service all had to agree to the light management plan. As a collective, they have finally been able to submit the application by just keeping at it over the years.

The Dark Sky Area includes  Summer Lake, Paisley, even Burns in the north, and Lakeview, and their submission talks at length about the dark sky of the sanctuary and gateway communities that people will gain access through. Travel Southern Oregon will continue to work with Lake County on tourism in the area and even while still awaiting the certification according to Hackett who also said, “The night skies over the county are something to behold.”

He said that with the application now submitted, all they can do is wait to hear back from DarkSky. The Lake County Chamber of Commerce is also excited about prospective opportunities should the application be approved.

With over 160,000 dark sky places across 22 nations- including Prineville Reservoir State Park, certified by DarkSky, the years-long application process is now a waiting game.

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