Are you listening? Rangers
Totally agree with you, Bruce. I had first written about this on CN back in 2020 after a particularly bad week at Cherry springs. Read about here: https://www.cloudyni...ings-911-–-920/ I also cross posted to several of the Cherry Springs FaceBook sites.
Cherry Springs has become a mess. And, its not because Chip Harrison retired as was posted above. Its because of the push on social media and on Chamber of Commerce type of websites like: https://www.visitpottertioga.com/ that aggressively market Cherry Springs State Park to non-astronomers. The local communities have fallen in love with the revenue that the dark skies bring to the area.
A word to the wise to all the semi-smug Calhoun County, WV. peeps... You would do well to keep quiet on social media regarding Calhoun's observing site. This will slowdown - but won't stop - its eventual popularity. The locals will start encouraging star gazing and using the dark skies as a vector to drive economic development in the depressed area.
For Cherry Springs, the entrance is moving from Route 44 to E Fork Rd. But I doubt this will stop people from coming in. It will help with headlights from Route 44. I do understand that there will soon be 24 hour Ranger service between Lyman Run, Cherry Springs and Patterson State Park. For this year, as was mentioned, the Woodsmen's Carnival is moving across the street to the public area of CSSP. These are new and welcome developments.
I've also noticed the "family campground" element to the Cherry Springs Astronomy Field. My sense is that the State and by extension the DCNR/Parks dept. don't discourage this as the most heavily attended state parks get the lions share of the funds in new annual budgetary awards. As astronomers, we want small, quiet, and low key. In other words, we have interests that are now directly in opposition to the mission of the State Parks Dept and local businesses which want to encourage public attendance and use of the state resources.
So, now, Cherry Springs is at a cross roads. Does the DCNR "up its game" and continue to cater to the hard core astronomer that made the place famous? Or, do they go mainstream chasing revenue allowing anyone even remotely interested in star gazing have a ticket to the party? I'm a member of the Board of Directors of Dark Sky Fund and we've got some terrific ideas, but the the State is VERY slow to adopt any of them - even when the Dark Sky Fund pays. Some of these include adding some additional interior roads, more power pedestals and a better way to enforce the 5 MPH No Dust speed limit.
I have been star gazing at Cherry Springs since 1996 but not regularly until 1998. CSSP is not as dark as it once was. Fracking, economic development, LED street lights etc have all contributed to this. I recently heard Cherry Springs described as a solid "Bortle 2" site - it used to be, but now its really a Bortle 3.
All in my opinion, of course.
Edited by peleuba, 05 July 2022 - 01:31 PM.