Sustainable Destination Economies

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In the American West, especially, dark skies are beginning to be protected as a competitive economic move. Prominent Western resorts, scenic areas and national parks (Sun Valley, Telluride, Aspen, Mammoth Lakes, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, and Death Valley, among many others) are marketing the stars, moon, and Milky Way [see Canyonlands poster, right; Milky Way versions exist for Rocky Mountain National Park, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Joshua Tree and others (artist and astro-physicist Tyler Nordgren)].

Outdoor adventure, eco- , agri- and astro-tourism are big businesses with a highly competitive destination set. State, county and city visitor bureaus are taking notice.

Utah's Dark Skies Are Ideal For Astro-Tourism

An unintended consequence of America's prosperity is a phenomenon now called "light pollution.” City lights, and even lights in small towns, keep the night sky from being truly dark in most areas around the country. As a result, astronomers say fewer than 500 stars are visible in many urban areas. Some people have never seen the "milky" part of the our Milky Way Galaxy.

Happily, lights are few and far between in remote areas in southern Utah, where you will find hundreds of square miles with no towns and few to no light bulbs. On a moonless night it is possible to see 7,500 or more stars from many remote viewpoints. (www.utah.com)

Additionally, property values are increasingly linked to escaping city and suburban "brightness blight" to gain access to the stars (see listing examples from Telluride CO and Goldendale WA, right).

Communities that would build sustainable local economies, increase destination-dollar competitiveness, and enhance private property values through the increasingly rare natural asset of a starry night need carefully consider reasonably phased-in, energy-saving dark-sky controls.

Forits detailedModel Lighting Ordinance, the IDA developed provisions appropriate for communities ranging from city centers to country crossroads.

2016 Ogden Valley GEM Committee /Ogden Valley UT Chapter, International Dark-Sky Association (www.starrynightsutah.org) (www.darksky.org)