It's hard to believe that nearly 20 years have passed since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks shook the world. In the aftermath, Americans talked up unity and coming together in a time of tragedy. I was in the United Kingdom when the towers came down and when the Pentagon was hit. I still remember a banner in front of a church stating "Pray for America," and the outpouring of sympathy I received from strangers on the street when they heard my accent. (Yes! We have an accent to other ears!) I am interested in hearing people's thoughts as we approach this sad anniversary: Is there still a sense of national unity; how strong or weak do you think it is, and why?
Katharhynn Heidelberg Staff Member 25
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The National Park Service and the International Dark Sky Association proudly announce Curecanti National Recreation Area as an International Dark Sky Park. This certification recognizes the exceptional quality of Curecanti’s night skies and the opportunities to enhance visitor experiences through astronomy-based interpretive programming. Curecanti is the first National Recreation Area to be certified under this program.
“There is a deep appreciation for dark skies in this community,” said Curecanti Superintendent Deanna Greco. “The National Park Service is strongly invested in their preservation, interpretation, and protection.”
Many partners supported Curecanti in the certification process including the towns of Gunnison and Lake City, the Gunnison Valley Observatory, the Black Canyon Astronomical Society, Western Colorado University, and the Colorado Plateau Dark Sky Cooperative.
“This designation emphasizes how special the dark skies of the Gunnison Valley are and how important it is to preserve this natural resource,” said Dr. M. Suzanne Taylor, president of the Gunnison Valley Observatory Board of Directors. Curecanti continues to work with its partners in developing future dark sky experiences for visitors.
In support of dark sky conservation at Curecanti park rangers present astronomy programs at the Elk Creek campground and the Gunnison Valley Observatory. Children are encouraged to participate in the junior ranger night explorer program from home or by obtaining a booklet at the Elk Creek Visitor Center.
The International Dark Sky Places Program was founded in 2001 as a non-regulatory and voluntary program encouraging communities, parks, and protected areas around the world to preserve and protect dark sites through responsible lighting polices and public education. Each International Dark Sky Place follows a rigorous application process that demonstrates robust community support for dark sky certification. The first National Park Service unit to receive the certification was Utah's Natural Bridges National Monument in 2007. Today, Curecanti joins many other National Park Service units as an International Dark Sky Place.
The mission of the International Dark-Sky Association is to preserve and protect the nighttime environment and our heritage of dark skies through environmentally responsible outdoor lighting. Learn more at www.darksky.org.
Could Washington, D.C., become a state? The New York Times has just reported a bill to grant the District of Columbia statehood has passed the House, on party lines. It would be the 51st state and would be called Washington, Douglass Commonwealth in honor of Frederick Douglass. If it becomes a state, it would have one representative and two senators. The bill, however, faces stiffer challenges in the U.S. Senate, where it's estimated that at least 10 Republicans would have to get on board with the idea. What are your thoughts? Should D.C. become a state?