HARRISVILLE, Mich. (AP) – Officials are working to get Dark Sky designation for two state parks and a state recreation area in Michigan’s northeastern Lower Peninsula, a move that supporters hope will help boost tourism in the area.
Groups that support Thompson’s Harbor State Park, Negwegon State Park and Rockport State Recreation Area are involved in the effort, which could help make the areas of Alcona, Alpena and Presque Isle counties more appealing for stargazers.
Eric Ostrander, supervisor for Negwegon State Park and Rockport State Recreation Area, told The Alpena News that such a designation would have the biggest impact at Rockport, since it is set for more development in the future.
“People like to be able to go out and see the stars and learn about some of the cultural and natural history that’s part of the night sky” he said. “We and the friends groups want to protect these areas where you have a good clear view of the night sky.”
Negwegon and Thompson’s Harbor are undeveloped parks.
“It’s a neat thing, and it’s another economic opportunity for northeast Michigan,” said Mike Grohowski, president of Friends of Thompson’s Harbor. “I think any time we can grab onto any kind of stimulus or whatever that’s going to come our way, I think we need to take advantage of it.”
Sue Keller, president of the group Friends of Negwegon, has been advocating the designation for Negwegon State Park for some time. With Alcona County’s sparse population and large tracts of state and federal land, Keller said, there are regional assets to be tapped.
“We view the night sky as a natural resource just as the lake is, and the forest and plants and animals, and it’s often an ignored natural resource, to be protected and enjoyed,” she said.
Michigan already is home to Headlands International Dark Sky Park, located about 2 miles west of Mackinaw City in Emmet County. The 600-acre county property in 2011 was designated as an International Dark Sky Park, one of more than a dozen around the world.
© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.