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Beverly shores awarded dark sky status

Members of the ABSR Board and Environment Committee. Photo by Bill Taylor.

Nights along the south shore of Lake Michigan are a little darker thanks to dedicated residents of a northwest Indiana community.

In recognition of their efforts to protect the nighttime environment along the Indiana Dunes, the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) today announced it has named the Town of Beverly Shores, Indiana, as the world's seventh International Dark Sky Community.

"Beverly Shores is proof that small towns can do big things," said IDA Acting Executive Director Scott Kardel. "Their commitment to night sky preservation places them in an elite, but growing group of communities world-wide."

Beverly Shores is situated on 5.83 square miles (15.1 square km) of land along the shoreline of Lake Michigan east of the greater Chicago area. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, a park of the National Park Service, surrounds Beverly Shores to its east, west and south, and Lake Michigan is to its north, which is why locals often refer to the town as "The Island."

ABSR President William S. Gilmer credits this collaborative community spirit for today's award. "The concerted efforts of our town government, community association, businesses and individual residents to reduce all sources of light pollution in our town have been an exemplary model of a community working together toward a primary goal," Gilmer said.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore protects part of the Great Marsh, the vast wetland that once paralleled the Indiana shoreline of Lake Michigan from Gary to Michigan City. The National Lakeshore hosts some of the greatest biodiversity in the Midwest among its beaches, sand dunes, black oak forests and savannas, wetlands, open prairies and shrub swamps. At the turn of the 20th Century, botanist Henry Chandler Cowles carried out landmark studies of plant succession that led to the Dunes becoming known as "the birthplace of ecology."

Beverly Shores residents have long treasured The Island's location in the wild confines of the Dunes. In recent years, they have embraced dark skies as an important part of the local environment drawing residents and tourists alike. Beverly Shores residents have demonstrated their commitment to controlling the growth of outdoor lighting in their town through a series of retrofits and replacements of residential and commercial light fixtures.

Responsible outdoor lighting in Beverly Shores helps protect many species living in the Dunes. "The National Park Service applauds the progressive steps that the Town is taking to mitigate the effects of light pollution in the area and pledges its support to assist in making this a successful venture," said Garry M. Traynham, Acting Superintendent of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. 

Valere Tjolle

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