Saskatchewan's Environmental Champions

Richard Huziak

For at least 20 years, Richard Huziak has been part of an international movement to eliminate light pollution - the use of inefficient outdoor lighting that spills light to the side and upwards to the sky, obscuring starlight.

Huziak's original interest in fighting light pollution stemmed from his own love of viewing the stars as an amateur astronomer. The existence of light pollution means that people who live in the city can no longer see the Milky Way galaxy in the sky. This is a loss to all, especially children, since the experience of the vast, engulfing night sky with countless twinkling stars has stimulated the imagination and inspired scientific and religious thought throughout history.

Light pollution has much more far reaching ecological consequences than obscuring the view of the night sky. These range from increased emission of greenhouse gases to the interruption of migratory bird navigation.

Huziak's persistence has paid off in the past 5 years, with a number of very notable advances in the fight against light pollution. These advances include the establishment of Dark Sky Preserves in Saskatchewan provincial parks and successful lobbying efforts that have lead to environmentally friendly lighting in the new Saskatoon subdivision of Hampton Village. This lighting will lead to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions due to more efficient energy use and to better nighttime lighting due to the elimination of glare.

Huziak's single biggest accomplishment is his leadership in having Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park (CHIPP) designated as a Dark Sky Preserve (DSP). On September 28, 2004, CHIPP became the third DSP in Canada. It is by far the largest of the three, covering over 96,000 acres.

The DSP designation means that the park will use, and retrofit where necessary, properly shielded and directed nighttime lighting. The declaration marked the culmination of 18 months work and will protect some of darkest and most easily accessible dark skies in North America.

Following in the wake of the DSP declaration, it was decided that lighting in nearby Elkwater Park would be similarly retrofitted. Efforts are currently underway to have all of Saskatchewan's (and Alberta's) Provincial Parks designated as DSPs.

Influential presentations by Richard at the Saskatchewan Eco-tourism Conference in Saskatoon in 2004 and to the Saskatchewan Park Managers' Annual Meeting in Regina on June 8, 2004 are considered to have been critical in convincing park officials of the value of creating the CHIPP DSP.

"Rick Goett (L) and Richard Huziak (R) display the CHIPP Dark Sky Preserve T-shirts at the preserve signing ceremony."

Richard's involvement in the fight against light pollution has also made him a local expert with respect to engineering lighting standards and to municipal and provincial policies regarding the installation of nighttime lighting. This knowledge has been used in many behind the scenes discussions with planners, where for example he has successfully lobbied for environmentally friendly lighting at the Saskatoon Skatepark, and in discussions with ordinary citizens like cottage owners who want a better nighttime environment at their lakeside retreats.

Huziak is the current chairperson of the Saskatchewan Light Pollution Abatement Committee of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. With Richard Huziak's persistence, Saskatchewan can maintain its pride as the Land of Living Skies, both day and night.

Submitted by Gordon E. Sarty

"Richard Huziak with his homebuilt 10-inch telescope."