Quetico Provincial Park protects pristine night sky

Press release

Ontario Parks is pleased to announce Quetico Provincial Park has been designated as an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA).

With the support of Starry Skies Lake Superior IDA chapter and the Heart of the Continent Partnership, Quetico becomes the 3rd public land in the region to achieve the Dark Sky Park designation following Voyageurs National Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota. This unique international partnership builds on a long history of cooperation to create an internationally significant area of pristine protected night skies in Northwestern Ontario and Northeastern Minnesota.

Achieving this designation involved a rigorous two-year process which required:

– Light management planning to convert existing external lighting to dark sky compliant light fixtures.

– Annual sky quality measurements to ensure dark sky criteria were met.

– Development of new educational programming and signage to help visitors learn about the importance of protecting our night skies.

Quetico joins Killarney Provincial Park and Lake Superior Provincial Park as the third provincial park in Ontario to receive a Dark Sky designation since 2018. Voyageur Park in Minnesota earned its designation last month.

The Northern Lights over Quetico Park will become more spectacular now that the park has reached its goal of designation as an International Dark Sky Park. The achievement required rethinking light pollution, and installing new fixtures to preserve the darkness. – Ontario Parks photo

Why protect dark skies?

Protecting dark skies plays a large part in preserving the natural ecosystem of our provincial parks. Light pollution extends our days which interrupts some of nature’s oldest internal systems.

Many birds, amphibians, insects and plants (and us) have evolved to rely on uninterrupted periods of darkness during the night.

Seasonal changes in how long it is dark at night helps plants prepare for spring and fall and provides important signals to other animals that trigger events like amphibian breeding and bird migration.

Dark skies can also be beneficial for our health, with time under the stars being tied to a variety health benefits.

To be a dark sky friendly camper remember the following:

– Use outdoor lights and lanterns only when necessary and shut them off when you go to sleep.

– Don’t install solar powered garden lights that stay lit all night long.

– Don’t install lighting on your campsite such as string lights.