Planning volunteer quits over light issue

Dark-sky advocate leaves post with Elizabeth after getting no traction toward goal

Chancy J. Gatlin-Anderson
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 5/3/21

Edwin Wiley, former Town of Elizabeth planning committee member, presented his Dark Skies Initiative to the Elizabeth Board of Trustees April 13, but was ultimately met with disinterest. Wiley has …

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Planning volunteer quits over light issue

Dark-sky advocate leaves post with Elizabeth after getting no traction toward goal

Posted

Edwin Wiley, former Town of Elizabeth planning committee member, presented his Dark Skies Initiative to the Elizabeth Board of Trustees April 13, but was ultimately met with disinterest. Wiley has approached town officials with his requests several times. After the latest rejection, Wiley resigned from his volunteer position on the Elizabeth planning committee.

Wiley expressed his frustration with the trustees and their lack of initiative in the reduction of light pollution in Elbert County.

“I am frustrated with the lack of productivity and vision of the board of trustees,” said Wiley. “Members are facing internal division, which is negatively impacting the overall well-being of the county.”

Wiley’s Elbert County Dark Skies Initiative is a splinter effort in association with Dark Skies Colorado, an organization that promotes dark sky preservation, education and experience. In his April 13 presentation to the board, Wiley argued that the growing light pollution is a significant and looming threat given the extensive growth and development that Elbert County has seen, and will continue to see in the decades to come.

“The direction received from the Board was that the Board has other priorities during this time. The Board of Trustees seemed to be open to potentially exploring dark sky amendments at a later date,” according to the April 16 Elizabeth Department of Community Development staff report.

Wiley said that with the inevitable growth and development of Elbert County, seeing the vibrant night stars is important to maintaining a sense of rural community that can only be obtained with sustainable, regulated lighting.

Wiley argues that the effects of light pollution in Elbert County can be easily mitigated and cost-effective. In his presentation, Wiley proposed basic dark-sky lighting standards:

1) Shielding of fixtures: Downward pointing, fully shielded lighting keeps unwanted light from escaping into surrounding areas and the sky above, directing the light onto the desired areas and limiting glare. Outdoor lighting should be “fully shielded,” meaning no light emitted above a 90-degree angle.

2) Lighting color: The International Dark-Sky Association recommends using long-wavelength lighting with a color temperature of 3000 Kelvin or less. Currently used blue-rich lighting brightens the night sky more than warm-colored lighting. Researchers are beginning to connect blue light emission to negative health effects in people and greater problems for wildlife.

For further information on the Colorado dark sky efforts, you can find more information at their website. https://www.darkskiescolorado.org/

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