The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) has designated Spruce Woods Provincial Park as the first Dark-Sky Preserve in Canada's prairie province of Manitoba, as Jeff Wharton, Minister of Environment, Climate and Parks, announced last week. "This recognizes the park's strong commitment to preserving nighttime ecosystems and educating visitors about light pollution," Wharton said.
Dark-Sky Preserves (DSP) are sites that have exceptional night-sky reading, host astronomy programs, and reduce light pollution as much as possible. They serve to preserve nighttime darkness and thus protect ecosystems with nocturnal animals.
Spruce Woods Provincial Park is known for having high-quality night-sky readings, with pristine dark-sky environments. It is located in Manitoba’s South, about 160 kilometres West of the provincial capital Winnipeg, and surprises with an ecosystem rich in contrasts. Visitors will find not only a blue-green oasis of spruce trees, lakes and rivers as well as prairie grasslands, but even a desert-like area with shifting sand dunes. The Spirit Sands were once a sacred site of the Cree. The park has a number of great hiking trails and can also be experienced on a horse-drawn covered wagon, or you can enjoy canoe and paddleboat rentals on the Assiniboine River. For overnight stays, the park is home to the Kitchi Manitou Campground which is especially popular with families. In addition to sites for tents and RVs, also yurts are rented. The Jackfish Lake Cabin, on the other hand, can only be reached on foot and is located directly on the Epinette Creek trail system.
With the designation of Spruce Woods Provincial Park, Canada now has a total of 27 Dark-Sky Preserves.
Further information on Manitoba can be found at www.travelmanitoba.com.