Creede Trustees makes Dark Sky Lighting official

Contributed photo The City of Creede took steps to help with Dark Sky efforts in and around city limits. Headwaters Alliance is working to make Mineral County a Dark Sky Destination and the new ordinance will help with efforts to get the designation.

CREEDE — City of Creede Board of Trustees on Nov. 9 approved Ordinance 433, which pertains to Dark Sky Lighting. Set to go into effect in December, the ordinance will apply to all outdoor lighting within Creede’s city limits.

However, those who don’t yet have appropriate lighting will not be penalized. The ordinance is intended to encourage the eventual adoption of dark sky-friendly lighting as time, budgets, and maintenance allows.

The primary stipulations of the ordinance are to fully shield lighting so that it only illuminates what’s important, choose lighting that is below 3000 Kelvins, meaning more yellow in color rather than blue, use dimmer bulbs, less than 500 lumens, and only use lighting when necessary. When purchasing new bulbs and fixtures, most of this information is on the packaging.

“It’s really not about changing a large portion of the outdoor lighting fixtures,” says Alex Handloff, Communications Director at Headwaters Alliance, who has been working with the city on the ordinance and on the proposed Southern San Juan Dark Sky Reserve. “We are already an incredibly dark region with a great deal of lighting that is dark sky friendly. The real purpose is to maintain our level of darkness and preserve it for future generations. It’s about understanding what light pollution is and how limiting it is beneficial for everyone — it saves money, people sleep better, animals thrive, and we get to stand in awe of the cosmos.”

It’s true, many outdoor lights are already in compliance, including a large number of the city street lights. Headwaters Alliance (HWA) and the City of Creede have been working with San Luis Valley Rural Electric Coop to ensure that replaced fixtures and bulbs are dark sky approved.

The ordinance is a critical part of the ongoing work by HWA to earn designation from the International Dark Sky Association (IDSA) for the Southern San Juan Dark Sky Reserve. The proposed Reserve covers over 420,000 acres within Mineral County and will help preserve the astonishingly dark sky that we all value. HWA has been hard at work taking dark sky measurements, hosting events, and taking an inventory of existing lighting in order to finish the application and receive approval from IDSA.

Preserving the dark sky has many benefits for people and for plants and animals. For example, energy use can be dramatically reduced with more efficient bulbs and by only using lighting when necessary; neighbors greatly appreciate when lighting doesn’t shine into their houses; shielded lighting is safer because it reduces glare and only illuminates what’s important; and most importantly, a Dark Sky Reserve ensures that the cosmos will continue to inspire, humble and entertain us all for generations to come.

“Everyone we talk to about this project loves it! It has tremendous community support going forward because we already love and value our dark night sky, seeing the Milky Way and experiencing the wilderness of our mountain home,” says Heather Greenwolf, Executive Director, Headwaters Alliance. “The vast majority of folks and businesses in Mineral County are already practicing Dark Sky-friendly lighting.”

Now that the City ordinance has passed, officials are encouraging the community to do its part. When bulbs or fixtures need to be replaced, look for dark sky approved lighting. A great resource exists on the International Dark Sky Association website (darksky.org). Remember to turn off outdoor lighting when you aren’t using it and when you leave on vacation or for the season. Email [email protected] with any questions.

Support HWA for Colorado Gives Day on Dec. 7. Your donation directly helps projects like the Southern San Juan Dark Sky Reserve as well as ongoing work in water quality at the Nelson Tunnel Superfund Site, 2022 restoration of the lower Willow Creek Floodplain, flood mitigation in North Creede and the City of Creede and more! Learn more and donate at headwatersalliance.com.

For more information, contact Handloff at [email protected]

 

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