Dark Sky Preservation Collaboration is Mounting!

Cedar Breaks National Monument International Dark Sky Park, Utah.

Cedar Breaks National Monument International Dark Sky Park, Utah.

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL DARK SKY WEEK! (March 1- April 7)

RCA launches campaign to identify Oregon’s first International Dark Sky Place

Last month RCA initiated its campaign to help designate Oregon’s first International Dark Sky Place (IDSP). Such places are certified under a program developed by the International Dark Sky Association (IDA), the only organization solely dedicated to protecting night skies for present and future generations. About a dozen RCA members volunteered to support this effort. This is a big effort and one that will require sustained support from many other people across the state. Getting the word out that “dark skies matter” and fending off the trend of brighter and more pervasive outdoor lighting is no easy feat. Drum roll….statewide citizen support may be just around the corner!

Oregon chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association is forming

IDA is working with active IDA members in several states to help them form statewide IDA “chapters.” Oregon is one of those states. Bend, OR has a few active IDA members who are carrying the gauntlet on this new IDA chapter formation. With the establishment of an Oregon Chapter, IDA members in Oregon can coordinate and pool their efforts, and tax-free donations will come directly to IDA Oregon to support projects in Oregon. A “boot-strap committee” of Oregon IDA members is working with IDA staff to make chapter formation a reality. Two RCA members, Dawn Nilson and Mike McKeag, are on that committee. If you are an IDA member/donor, you will soon be receiving a letter of invitation to participate in this new chapter. If you aren’t an IDA member, join now during International Dark Sky Week which runs from March 31 – April 7. If you can’t contribute time, you can contribute tax-free dollars to support the work of the Oregon Chapter. Collaboration is mounting and you can be part of it.

Radiant transfer diagram. International Dark Sky Assocation

Radiant transfer diagram. International Dark Sky Assocation

LED conversion is happening, it can be a blessing if done right, a curse if done wrong

Your support is more critical than ever. Despite diligent advocacy, outreach, and the “watch-dog” efforts of RCA and Portland Audubon, the trend towards brighter and poorly-designed lighting in the Portland Metro Area is growing. More discouraging is that many of these lighting projects are being implemented by public agencies who choose to ignore the documented environmental, health, and “scientifically-based” safety issues of blue-rich white LED lights in total favor of financial cost-savings and unfounded safety claims. LED lights can be a great lighting alternative IF DONE RIGHT, but often LED lights are applied with little regard for IDA’s scientifically-based guidance for appropriate LED lighting design.  

We are using a modern, 21st century lighting technology in a 20th century, antiquated manner, and we are over-lighting our skies in the process. For example, LED lights don’t belong on tall poles. They don’t work like a flame torch. Numerous studies across the globe reveal the adverse impacts to salmonids, humans, plants, birds, etc. from artificial light at night (ALAN). Though an outdoor bulb color temperature of less than 3,000 Kelvin was recommended by IDA years ago, Oregon State and local transportation agencies are using our tax dollars to replace lights with 4,000 Kelvin bulbs. We have a say in our state’s stewardship. If we work collaboratively statewide, we can turn the tide and prevent our night sky from disappearing at the speed of light. Please, join IDA. All the better, participate in the new IDA Oregon Chapter and the IDSP Designation Team, and always share RCA’s Facebook posts about dark skies so we grow awareness on this important issue.