Protecting Dark Skies in Sedona
THIS ARTICLE APPEARS IN THE RED ROCK NEWS
April 8, 2022
Our recent delightful evenings offer chances to savor some of the best of Red Rock Country – excellent weather, amazing sunsets illuminating our stunning landscape, and after dark, some of the world’s most brilliant night skies.
Arizona helped birth the dark-sky movement when, in 2001, the International Dark-Sky Association designated Flagstaff as the world’s first Dark Sky Place. Sedona earned Dark Sky Community status in 2014, followed by the Village of Oak Creek, Camp Verde and Cottonwood. Nearby Grand Canyon is a recognized Dark Sky Park.
Today, we can too easily take dark skies for granted. Consider: globally, just 36 localities have earned Dark Sky certification, and five are in our immediate vicinity, including Sedona itself. This is a sustainability accomplishment we can be proud of, rare and worth savoring. Ask someone living practically anywhere else – dark night skies should never be taken for granted.
Keep Sedona Beautiful and the City of Sedona – partners in the Sedona Sustainable Tourism Plan – work together to enhance natural darkness without effecting public safety. The City’s Land Development Code takes a sweeping view of light pollution as “any adverse effect of manmade light.” The Code cites many downsides, such as the “adverse impact of exterior lighting on stargazing, wildlife habitat, and human health.” The mention of wildlife is critical. Many animals are nocturnal. Bright light disrupt their natural rhythms and can upend diurnal cycles, setting off unintended destructive consequences in nature’s interrelated web.
The Sedona Sustainable Tourism Plan (STP), spearheaded by the Chamber and adopted by the City Council in 2019, includes dark sky tactics such as encouraging grandfathered businesses to switch to dark sky compliant lighting. Keep Sedona Beautiful (KSB) follows through, meeting regularly with grandfathered businesses to show how they can readily adapt to dark sky compliant lighting. In our STP updates at SedonaSustainable.com, you can read how KSB has reached out to more than a dozen businesses eligible for a dark sky retrofit. With grants from the Arizona Community Foundation of Sedona and Sedona Whole Foods Market, KSB may even match up to 50% of the cost and provides the necessary handyman skills.
This behind-the-scenes work is emblematic of much of Sedona’s sustainability progress; it is often unheralded and performed by dedicated volunteers. In this case, we owe our ability to enjoy some of Arizona’s darkest skies while living among thousands to local volunteer organizations, sound city policy, and a well-developed program (the STP) that sets out goals, tactics and accountability.
Positive change also comes down to individual action. So, what can you do to contribute to Sedona’s beautifully dark night skies? KSB has some tips:
- Outdoor landscape lighting should be shielded and point down, not up.
- Sconces and any lighting mounted on outside walls should also be shielded and point down.
- If you have security lights, consider adding motion sensors so that those lights come on only when needed.
- Add timers to your outdoor lighting so they turn off automatically when no longer needed to light the way for you or your visitors.
- Choose bulbs that have a color temperature of no more than 3000 Kelvins.
Dark skies are a Sedona tradition and a sustainability imperative. I hope you support efforts to keep our skies dark and volunteer do your part. Because sustainability is more than word – it is Sedona’s mission.
–Michelle Conway, Interim President/CEO
Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau