Stars take centre stage at Kouchibouguac National Park


    KOUCHIBOUGUAC NATIONAL PARK, NB, June 6 /CNW/ - On behalf of the
Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of the Environment and Minister responsible
for Parks Canada, Ms. Tilly O'Neill-Gordon, Member of Parliament, Miramichi,
joined the celebration to declare Kouchibouguac National Park as New
Brunswick's first Dark Sky Preserve.
    "In 2009 we are celebrating the International Year of Astronomy. What
better way to mark this special year than to declare Kouchibouguac National
Park a Dark Sky Preserve," said Ms. O'Neill-Gordon. "This initiative supports
the Parks Canada mandate of preserving ecological integrity of the park while
setting the stage for outstanding visitor experiences."
    By declaring Kouchibouguac National Park a Dark Sky Preserve, Parks
Canada is committing to protect and preserve the night sky by applying strict
lighting guidelines to reduce light pollution. The guidelines are tailored to
protect ecosystems, reduce energy consumption and maintain dark skies.
    Since 2003, Parks Canada has been working in partnership with The Royal
Astronomical Society of Canada to establish Dark Sky preserves in Alberta,
Ontario and Saskatchewan.
    "Our ongoing partnership with the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada
will help to preserve the integrity of the night sky in Kouchibouguac National
Park, and in other locations across the Parks Canada system, for this and
future generations while offering Canadians and visitors incredible
opportunities to discover and learn about the stars," said Minister Prentice.

    Parks Canada works to ensure that Canada's historic and natural heritage
is presented and protected for the enjoyment, education and appreciation of
all Canadians, today and in the future. Through a network of 42 national
parks, 162 national historic sites, and three national marine conservation
areas, Parks Canada invites Canadians, and people from around the world, to
experience Canada's treasured natural and historic places.

    In addition, visitors to these New Brunswick attractions take advantage
of a two-year fee freeze currently in effect in all national parks and
national historic sites managed by Parks Canada.BACKGROUNDER
               KOUCHIBOUGUAC NATIONAL PARK A DARK SKY PRESERVEParks Canada is celebrating the International Year of Astronomy by
declaring Kouchibouguac National Park a Dark Sky Preserve.
    Dark Sky Preserves are designated by the Royal Astronomical Society of
Canada and are established to reduce artificial light glare, increase the
visibility of the night sky, and reduce energy consumption to benefit all life
on Earth. Dark Sky Preserves promote the protection of nocturnal habitat for
present and future generations and they encourage public enjoyment and
awareness of the cultural heritage of the night sky.
    By declaring Kouchibouguac National Park a Dark Sky Preserve, Parks
Canada is committed to protect and preserve the night sky by applying strict
lighting guidelines to reduce light pollution. The guidelines are tailored to
protect ecosystems, reduce energy consumption and maintain dark skies.
Specific activities include:- Reducing energy consumption by adjusting, retrofitting or eliminating
      light fixtures;
    - Improving nocturnal ecology by returning the dark night to birds, bats,
      insects and amphibians;
    - Promoting and delivering new programs on astronomy and other dark sky
      themes.Kouchibouguac National Park is the fourth Dark Sky Preserve to be created
in Parks Canada's system of national parks and national historic sites. The
three other Dark Sky Preserves are:

    Cypress Hills Dark Sky Preserve
    In 2004, a declaration was made creating a unified Cypress Hills Dark Sky
Preserve including Fort Walsh National Historic Site, Saskatchewan. Cypress
Hills is the largest Dark-Sky Preserve in Canada with a total of 39,600
hectares.

    Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve
    In 2006, the Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve was officially declared to
create a total protected area of some 293 square km including the entirety of
Elk Island National Park, Alberta.

    Point Pelee National Park and Dark Sky Preserve
    In 2006, Point Pelee National Park in Ontario became a Dark Sky Preserve.
Each year the fly route of millions of migratory birds funnel through a small
spit of land jutting into the western basin of Lake Erie.

    Parks Canada worked closely with the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada
to have Kouchibouguac National Park declared a Dark Sky Preserve. Founded in
1868, the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada is Canada's leading astronomy
organization bringing together over 4,000 enthusiastic amateurs, educators and
professionals.



For further information: Robert Sheldon, Superintendent, Kouchibouguac
National Park, Parks Canada, (506) 876-2443; Also available on the Internet at
www.pc.gc.ca under Media Room