Far from light pollution, West Virginia’s state parks and forests offer some of the best stargazing spots on the east coast. If you look at a light pollution map of the US, West Virginia is dark!
In 2021, Watoga State Park, Calvin Price State Forest and Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park became West Virginia’s first international Dark Sky Parks. The designation was awarded by the International Dark Sky Association (IDA), a non-profit organization working hard to restore the nighttime environment and protect communities from the harmful effects of light pollution.
The Dark Sky designation helps to raise awareness of our parks and dark skies as resources for residents and visitors from around the world.
Who doesn’t like a starry night? Generations of artists, writers and musicians have all been inspired by the night sky. Night skies are just very cool. As a little girl I learned about the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper and spent lots of time searching the sky for these patterns on summer nights. That love of the mystery and beauty of the night never left me. I feel blessed to live in a place where we can still see the stars.
There is a global movement to reduce light pollution, and I’m glad that West Virginia is playing its part in preserving the night sky:
- In their recently completed Comprehensive Plan, the Town of Davis included under Quality of Life: “Qualify and preserve Davis as a recognized Dark Sky Community.”
- Watoga State Park, Blackwater Falls State Park, Lost River State Park and Seneca State Forest are all currently listed by WV Tourism as top stargazing spots.
- International Dark Sky Week held in Charleston in April of this year kicked off WV Department of Tourism’s partnership with the International Dark-Sky Association.
- Coopers Rock State Forest announced a plan to build five stargazing A-frame cabins.
- Travel and Leisure dubbed West Virginia “one of the most under-the radar stargazing destinations” last year.
Light pollution affects human health, wildlife behavior and the environment. It blocks our view of the universe. Responsible lighting practices, passing dark sky friendly legislation, are just a couple of ways we can solve light pollution.
Let’s be inspired and feel empowered to protect our beautiful dark sky here in Tucker County … and keep our connection with the cosmos.
Nancy Luscombe, Davis Resident