Phoenix suburb Fountain Hills becomes dark sky community
FOUNTAIN HILLS, Ariz. (AP) — A Phoenix suburb has been labeled a dark sky community, the latest in Arizona to be acclaimed for efforts to combat light pollution.
Residents of Fountain Hills campaigned for the designation by the International Dark-Sky Association, the Arizona Republic reported last week.
The town is one of 17 communities across the world that pledged to stop excess artificial light. It’s the fourth dark sky community in Arizona, joining Flagstaff, Sedona and the village of Oak Creek.
John Barentin, association director of conservation, said the designation is about changing public perceptions and promoting not just reduced lighting levels, but better-quality lighting, too.
“Because the focus with dark sky communities is on public policy and public outreach and education, they need not have a dark sky to begin with,” Barentin said.
Fountain Hills missed the mark for being considered a dark sky sanctuary, largely because of the light that leaks over from Phoenix. The town’s focus instead was on updating its existing lighting, which it has done.
It cost Fountain Hills $23,000 to update its lighting, an effort that came about when the Town Council rewrote its lighting ordinance to ensure streetlights point straight down and use warm-colored bulbs instead of traditional bright white.
“We have always been a dark sky community,” senior planner Marissa Moore said. “Now, we have a specific designation.”
A 2008 study by the University of Arizona said the space and astro-tourism industry brings in more than $250 million a year to the state. Fountain Hills will look to capitalize on that in April, when it will host a Dark Sky Festival.
Information from: The Arizona Republic, http://www.azcentral.com