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Dark Sky Park designation

Last weekend, Middle Fork River Forest Preserve was officially dedicated as a Dark Sky Park and a new park entrance sign was unveiled during a celebration attended by about 200, including people who were deeply involved in getting the park certified as the first and only International Dark Sky Park in Illinois and one of only 50 in the country.

Mary Ellen Wuellner, executive director of the Champaign County Forest Preserve District, said it was a fun celebration that included a presentation on the importance of dark skies and what individuals can do to darken skies around our own homes, presented by David Leake, director of Parkland College’s William M. Staerkel Planetarium, who was a driving force behind the park’s new designation. Wuellner said it’s been interesting to see how quickly the park’s designation has attracted visitors and phone calls from people interested in visiting. She said there are people who make a point of visiting Dark Sky Parks, which are listed on the International Dark Sky Association’s website, darksky.org.

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