Ridgway receives "dark sky" status

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Ridgway is the latest addition to the list of officially designated “dark sky” communities, as of this week.

The International Dark Sky Association awarded the designation to the town, which comes after about two years of hard work from those who work to preserve the night sky and limit light pollution, as well as a lengthy application process. A group of volunteers, including members of the Ridgway-Ouray Community Council, persuaded the town to submit the application and did much of the footwork to prepare for the designation. The announcement came during the Ridgway Town Council meeting on Wednesday night.

Town Planner Shay Coburn and other members of staff worked with the group, led by Ridgway resident Val Szwarc, to demonstrate community support for dark sky protection. This included specific limits to light brightness and wattage for new developments, making sure the town’s lighting fixtures comply with requirements and lighting ordinances preventing light pollution in years to come.

The process included several public hearings, which included discussions about enforcement of light ordinances serving to preserve the designation if it was awarded, as well as education about light pollution.

Ridgway is the second dark sky community to be recognized on the Western Slope, after Norwood, and the third to be recognized in Colorado. Westcliffe and Silver Cliff were the first dark sky communities to receive designation in Colorado.

The town joins the ranks of other dark-sky places in the region, including Helper, Utah, which received its designation in April, and Arches National Park and Great Sand Dunes National Park, which were designated in 2019. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park received its dark sky designation in 2015.