Mont-Tremblant National Park receives International Dark Sky Park designation

Mont-Tremblant National Park scenery Photo by Luca Piccollo/Shutterstock

After four years, Mont-Tremblant National Park has received a Dark Sky certification. “The certification is a recognition of the work that we have done over many years to protect the park’s night sky,” says the park’s manager of education, Hugues Tennier, of the designation’s significance.

Tennier’s team first had the idea in 2019, when the park was celebrating its 125th anniversary. “We were looking for a way to give back to the citizens of Quebec, and we thought this was the perfect way,” Tennier says.

The team started by implementing a lighting management plan, which involved removing 17 of the park’s 240 light fixtures as well as switching to downward facing, amber lights, instead of white or blue lights, which are worse for light pollution.

The main challenge arose from outside park boundaries though, in the form of light pollution from surrounding municipalities because the light bled into the sky above the park. “Most of the light pollution was coming from outside of the park, so we worked with surrounding municipalities to convert their lighting, even changing legislation in some cases,” says Tennier.

From conception to certification, it took the park about four years to achieve Dark Sky status, but Tennier’s team has plans to continue improving the sky’s nighttime conditions. “When we first took inventory of the lights, only 49 per cent were compliant with standards, now, 80 per cent of our lights are downwards facing amber lights, and we plan to get to 100 per cent by 2025,” says Tennier.

The International Dark Sky Places Program (IDSPP), which awards this designation, defines a Dark Sky Park as “land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, or educational value, its cultural heritage, and/or public enjoyment.”

To receive this designation, the Milky Way must be visible from the park without the aid of any equipment and nearby light pollution can only be visible along the horizon. Located 120 kilometres north of Montreal, Mont-Tremblant Park is now the closest place to the city where the Milky Way is visible to the human eye.

The park has implemented numerous educational initiatives to teach visitors about the negative effects of light pollution and about the wonderous objects visible in our solar system. Explore the initiatives here.

Visitors can also venture to one of the park’s designated “Starry Places”—areas throughout the park where the sky is widely visible, such as lake shores—to gaze, on clear nights, upon the unpolluted night’s sky.

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