2020 Annual Report for the International Dark Sky Association

dark sky

Text adapted from report prepared for IDA by Beth Bartoli, NSP Naturalist

What strange and trying times we live in. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, this annual report from Newport State Park for the International Dark Sky Association contains vastly different information than our reports from previous years.

In March 2020, at the onset of the Covid pandemic, parks remained open but park offices were closed and all interpretive park programs, including dark sky programs, were cancelled. This remains the case and is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. Newport is a Wisconsin state park and falls under the jurisdiction of state mandates and regulations. We must follow the State of Wisconsin’s Bounce Back plan, as well as the Covid-19 protocol of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources under the Fish, Wildlife and Parks division. 

An interesting observation as the pandemic continues, however, is the noted increase in visitors’ interest in nature-related activities, particularly in the dark skies. Phones continue to be staffed at the offices, and we receive many calls inquiring about our dark sky park.

Newport State Park attendance has increased on average about 14% over last year to date. July and August of 2020 showed staggering 40% and 32% increases, respectively, over July and August of 2019. Although we can only go by our automated car counts, we surmise that many of these were evening/nighttime visitors.

As we progress through the challenges this pandemic brings, uncertainty is the word that describes all. We do not know when programing will begin again but we look forward to next year and are reassured that our dark skies will continue to endure.

The full report is embedded below.