The International Dark Sky Association certified the neighboring towns of Westcliffe and Silver Cliff in southern Colorado’s Wet Mountain Valley as the world’s ninth Dark Sky Community. KRCC's Shanna Lewis reports.
Stars stretch from horizon to horizon on a clear night in the Wet Mountain Valley. The designation recognizes the community’s efforts to protect this view by reducing light pollution.
Protecting the view of the night sky works in concert with protecting open spaces, ranchlands and water rights in this rural community, says Jim Bradburn, president of Dark Skies, Wet Mountain Valley.
"This is one more piece that shows how much these folks that live in these towns really love this place and yet want to share it," says Bradburn, "and the only reason you can share it is because you’ve preserved it so that other people can see it and enjoy it."
The Wet Mountain Valley Dark Skies group began its work some 15 years ago and both towns have enacted ordinances to control the amount of light that shines upward. They are the first community in Colorado to receive the designation and at over 7800 feet, the highest in the world.
Hovenweep in southwestern Colorado was designated a Dark Sky Park by the same organization last year.