Making Night Skies Darker



From full moon snow hikes to late night summer star gazing, there’s something special about gazing up towards the sky so clear and open that you can see the Milky Way. Durango has partnered with the Colorado Tourism Office, Oedit and the International Dark Skies Association to ensure the continuation of beautiful night skies for the years to come. You’re watching the Local News Network brought to you by to Tafoya Barrett and Associates and Pop’s Truck and RV Center. I’m Wendy Graham Settle.

So the IDA has a vision that the night sky is filled with stars and celebrated and protected around the world as a shared heritage benefiting all living things. And a primary goal of that is a reduction in light pollution. ‘Cause if we can achieve that, then that allows that vision to come to life. And what light pollution is is any artificial light that is wasted or unneeded or that causes any adverse effect or impact.

Grossman and the rest of his team at the Colorado Office of Tourism with the passage of a bill in the state of Colorado for the purpose of Dark Sky designation are partnering with local communities to help the community earn a dark sky designation. The Colorado Office of Tourism and the International Dark Skies Association Colorado Chapter will provide mentorship to the community’s participating in the Colorado Dark Sky Certification Mentor Program.

That kind of shows the state of Colorado with what the lighting looks like from above. And you can see that there are some icons that showcase where the existing 15 locations are that have gotten ISDP certification. I’m learning a lot more about given that, you know, we just started doing this program and it’s first year. But the different types of things that these experts are working with the different locations that are participating in the program is just simply understanding how to structure a successful application for certification.

Dark skies or skies that are mostly or completely free of light pollution offer unique benefits to the community. It adds to the quality of life for residents as well as reducing energy use and consumption with an overall reduction of lights at night. Local wildlife benefit from the darker nights and for communities like Durango that rely on tourism, dark skies help diversify the types of tourism offered and encourage longer stays when visitors want to stay overnight.

And I think the importance of this program is that we’re really reducing the time that it takes to get certified. I’ll be the first to admit that 50 hours of consulting is probably not going to get you a certification, but it should save you time and it should move you further along the process. And when you look at what are the benefits of getting certified, ’cause I think that’s a great way to think about this too is that successful execution of these types of programs and getting certified allow you to see the Milky Way.

A Dark Sky certification can take up to eight years to receive. But by participating in the mentorship program and getting support from the Colorado Office of Tourism and the International Dark Skies Association Colorado Chapter can help communities reduce that time. The next round of applications for new communities pursuing a Dark Sky status will open in the fall of 2023. If you want to help reduce light pollution in your area, go outside at night, see if there are any lights that are directed up that maybe can be shielded or turned off after a certain point. If a light is needed, can the color be changed to something that isn’t so blinding? To learn more about the Colorado Dark Sky Mentorship Program and other programs from the Colorado Office of Tourism, visit the website at oedit.colorado.gov/Colorado-Tourism-office and look under the Programs and Funding tab. Thank you for watching this edition of The Local News Network. I’m Wendy Graham Settle.

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