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Dark sky preserves inside Michigan state parks are now officially open 24 hours

Headlands Dark Sky Park night sky photo
Courtesy Headlands International Dark Sky Park
Michigan stargazers can now visit dark sky preserves inside state parks 24-hours a day. The state Department of Natural Resources approved the rule June 9.

Stargazers will now have 24-hour access to Michigan’s dark sky preserves following a new land use order passed by the state Department of Natural Resources Thursday.

Previously, entrance to dark sky preserves in state parks were restricted to park hours which closed from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. This technically left visitors hoping to experience areas with limited light pollution little time throughout parts of the year to gaze up at the night sky, though the rule wasn’t strongly enforced.

Regulatory Unit Manager Nicole Hunt said managers of the preserves were key to the change.

“While they were permitting individuals to come in and view the night sky, they also wanted to make sure that in doing that and allowing that, that it was consistent with what our laws allowed and provided for, as far as entry times,” she said.

Michigan is the first state in the country to designate special areas as dark sky preserves. It’s now home to six preserves located inside state parks.

Hunt said making the change official raises awareness about the state’s natural resources.

“In particular dark sky preserves, they’re in some of our most beautiful locations and so hopefully everyone will able to get out and experience the park during the day but also at night,” she said.

The new ordinance takes effect June 10.

Melorie Begay is WKAR-FM's weekend host and a general assignment reporter.
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