One of the best kept secrets of our Maine Woods destinations is the incredible stargazing opportunities that exist due to its exceptional dark skies. This region is one of the darkest places remaining on the East Coast and was recently designated as the first International Dark Sky Park in New England. In addition to the stargazing benefits, protecting dark skies enhances human and ecological health and is consistent with AMC’s conservation mission.
Recognizing the importance of both conserving this unique environment and its opportunities for outdoor recreation tourism, AMC worked in conjunction with the local community of Greenville, ME to help achieve this designation and meet DarkSky’s guidelines. In total, 188 of the town’s streetlights were retrofitted to protect the night skies from light pollution and the town recently approved incorporating dark sky guidelines into its outdoor lighting and sign ordinances.
AMC is planning a dark sky campaign to expand awareness about the International Dark Sky Park and AMC’s conservation efforts in the region, including: a dark sky unit and contest for science education in schools; a series of videos on dark sky conservation, and a Dark Sky Festival, held October 16 – 23, 2022 at Medawisla Lodge, for guests who wish to connect with the night skies during their visit. The festival will include various programs featuring everything from an astrophotographer, astronomer, to poetry reading, live music, and other events.
Conservation efforts to protect dark skies do not end in Maine. AMC has been gradually implementing other measures at various destinations throughout our network. For instance, Dr. Doug Arion (executive director of the Mountain of Stars program at AMC) recently helped the Highland Center become dark sky compliant, and also donated fixtures to Pinkham Notch Visitors Center to help combat light pollution.