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Grand Canyon National Park achieves official dark-sky status

(Flickr Photo/Grand Canyon National Park)

PHOENIX – The Grand Canyon National Park has turned to the dark side — in a good way.

Arizona’s top tourist destination announced Monday it received its official International Dark-Sky Park certification, completing three years of efforts.

The park received provisional status from the International Dark-Sky Association in 2016 and has been working to reduce the impact of lighting around the iconic monument since then.

“We’ve been taking steps to retrofit 67% of the lights inside Grand Canyon National Park’s boundary to be dark-sky compliant or night sky friendly,” Rader Lane, a ranger with the park, told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

That meant replacing, shielding or removing two-thirds of the park’s 5,000 lights.

“Hopefully that will inspire other big national parks around the world, and in fact communities around the world, to take steps to help preserve our night sky heritage,” Lane said.

As of May 2019, 115 parks around the world had qualified for the designation.

It’s only going to get darker at the Grand Canyon, making it even easier for stargazers and sky watchers to take in the celestial sights. The park said in a press release it plans to achieve 90% compliance through two more phases of retrofitting.

Lane said the Grand Canyon Conservancy, a nonprofit partner of the park, provided most of the funding for the project.

“Without their help we wouldn’t have been able to be certified as an International Dark-Sky Park,” he said.

A ceremony will be held at the Mather Amphitheater on the South Rim at 10 a.m. Saturday to celebrate the achievement and kick off the 2019 Grand Canyon Star Party, a weeklong annual event.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ashley Flood contributed to this report.

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