Ketchum: first city in Idaho to become Dark Sky Community

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KETCHUM, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - The city of Ketchum becomes the first city in the Gem State to achieve a "Dark Sky Community" designation.

Based in Arizona, Ketchum Mayor Nina Jonas announced the International Dark Sky Association approved Ketchum's application to become a Dark Sky Community Tuesday.

"They like to promote and educate to dark skies and the preservation of dark skies as not only a health thing, but a glory of nature and promote natural habitats," Jonas said.

City officials and advocates worked years to achieve the new status to reduce light pollution to the night sky that's brought on by urban lighting.

In 1999, they started their dark sky ordinance.

The ordinance requires shielding street and building lighting to direct lighting to the ground.

"And in the spring, we strengthened the ordinance to deal with Christmas lighting and also street lighting and color temperatures so that the Kelvins aren't too high," she explained.

According to the news release, research shows that 80 percent of people in North America live in location where urban lighting dilutes the night sky. This is something not very many cities think about.

"This council went through revising the existing ordinance to take care of the new LED lighting that's happening all over the country," said advocate Dr. Stephen Pauley. "Several cities made mistakes by putting in high temp LED lights."

The designation comes after efforts of establishing the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve. They wait to hear back on a Dark Sky Reserve status at the end of the year, which would cover Ketchum, Sun Valley and Stanley over 1,400 square miles.

In the mean time, Jonas encourages everyone to "please, come to Ketchum and enjoy the Milky Way. Enjoy the Big Dipper and enjoy what we get to enjoy every single night."

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