The Athens Conservancy is asking for contributions to help fund a new “dark skies” nature preserve between Athens and Belpre, the group announced earlier this week.
The Deep Hollow-Dark Skies Preserve, funded in part by The Clean Ohio Fund, aims to create a nature preserve secluded from light pollution, as a space where star-gazers can observe the heavens.
Athens Conservancy President Chris Fahl said this service is valuable to community members who may notice diminishing visibility of stars due to light pollution.
“I think people are more tuned into [the need for dark spaces] because it’s becoming less and less available due to the light pollution,” Fahl said.
The Athens Conservancy wants to raise $12,000 through donations to match The Clean Ohio Fund grant that requires a 25% financial match from local recipients of grants, Fahl said.
Fahl said at the time, and for the immediate future, there won’t be much in the way of facilities at the park, although she said trails could be in the works down the line.
However, Fahl added that many members of the Athens County star-gazing community are excited for the prospect of an area set aside for their hobby.
She also said the global pandemic has led many people to embrace the natural world.
“People during COVID are reimagining what nature is for them at this moment,” Fahl said.
She also added Athens County would be building on the work of the City of Athens, which already has light pollution control measures. A subdivision regulation document passed in 2001 urges subdivisions to install lighting that reduces light pollution.
“I think the recognition of dark skies is really important in building on what Athens has been doing,” Fahl said.
The Clean Ohio Fund is a competitive grant process with no guarantee applicants will receive funds on any given year, Fahl said.
Individuals who wish to contribute to the project can do so at https://www.athensconservancy.org/?page_id=119