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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Harrisons Recognized At Black Forest Star Party

Chip And Maxine Harrison Get Award
Photo courtesy of Barb Geigle of POLC
Stargazers and astronomers from far and wide gathered at Cherry Springs State Park to view the cosmos under unusually dark skies, said to be among the least light-polluted skies in all of Pennsylvania. The skies are dark not just because of the rural character of the area but also because of the effort of several dedicated people.

To recognize the work of these individuals, a presentation was made during the Black Forest Star Party on September 6. The Pennsylvania Outdoor Lighting Council presented a plaque to Harry P. “Chip” Harrison, Park Operations Manager of the Hills Creek State Park Complex, and his wife, Maxine Harrison, Director of the Cherry Springs State Park Dark-Sky Fund Association.

Address: 1438 Shaner Drive, Pottstown, PA 19465
Phone/FAX: 610 326-1402 E-mail: POLCouncil@cs.com Website: www.POLCouncil.org
PENNSYLVANIA SECTION OF THE INTERNATIONAL DARK-SKY ASSOCIATION
The plaque recognized their steadfast adherence and active promotion of the principles of responsible outdoor lighting at Cherry Springs State Park, as contained in the Pennsylvania Wilds Design Guide and promoted by the Pennsylvania Outdoor Lighting Council.

The Harrisons have established and enforced standards in the park for low levels of glare-free lighting that operates only when needed. They have worked with local legislators to get lighting ordinances passed and provided educational materials for use by residents and businesses in the vicinity. Their efforts were recently recognized by the International Dark-Sky Association in designating the Park as a Gold Tier International Dark-Sky Park, the first to be so designated in the U.S.

But their efforts are not only about the stars. Speaking recently about the economic benefits of the astronomy venue, Mrs. Harrison observed, “Thousands of astronomers come to visit Cherry Springs and in the course of their visit, they spend money buying gas, groceries, lodging and dining dollars in the area, all because we are committed to keeping the dark night sky just that … dark.”

The Pennsylvania Outdoor Lighting Council, Pennsylvania Section of the International Dark-Sky Association, is a not-for-profit volunteer organization. Its aim is not only to protect the night sky but also to promote the use of energy-efficient lighting and protect the citizens of Pennsylvania and its natural environment from the negative consequences of bad lighting. The Council has worked with many communities across the state to enact protective ordinances and provide educational materials for citizens. Their website, www.POLCouncil.org, contains a considerable amount of useful information on good lighting practices, including model lighting ordinances.

The International Dark-Sky Association, based in Phoenix, AZ, has over 11,000 members worldwide. A rich source of information about good outdoor lighting practices and equipment can be found at their website, www.darksky.org.

The Pennsylvania Wilds initiative was started by the Rendell administration in 2003 with the aim of boosting the economic well-being of the 12-county region while maintaining its rich and diverse natural character. The Pennsylvania Wilds Design Guide was published in 2008 to provide guidance to citizens, planners, businesses and communities to accomplish the goals of the initiative.

For additional information, contact: Stan Stubbe, POLC President, polcouncil@cs.com, or 610 326-1402.

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