Sedona AZ (August 4, 2014) – The red rock scenery of Sedona has long been an iconic setting for Hollywood films about the Old West and a popular magnet for artists and tourists alike. Sedona is committed to preserving its small-town charm, and thanks to the sustained efforts of concerned residents, its dark night skies. In recognition of Sedona’s efforts protecting this important natural resource, the International Dark-Sky Association has designated the city of Sedona the world’s eighth International Dark Sky Community.
“We are pleased to honor the dedication and hard work of the many Sedona citizens committed to protecting the nighttime environment,” said IDA Acting Executive Director Scott Kardel.
Sedona, a community of more than 10,000 people, is a prime tourist destination featuring a variety of outdoor activities. The city hopes to highlight its commitment to dark skies preservation as a more visible draw for new residents and businesses.
“Sedona is known worldwide for its spectacular natural environment,” explained Sedona Mayor Rob Adams. “It is my personal goal to take a leadership role in establishing Sedona as a model city in sustainability and environmental stewardship. Preserving our dark skies is just one component of this goal.”
The events culminating in today’s announcement began more than 40 years ago. Sedona residents founded Keep Sedona Beautiful (KSB) in 1972 to address rapid growth and a lack of regional long-term planning. Over time, KSB members began to consider light pollution as pressing an environmental issue as air and water quality and the protection of the Red Rocks.
Fifteen years ago, city staff began working with KSB, the business community, and local citizens to identify problem outdoor lighting installations and to incorporate solutions into a revised code. Lessons learned from policy changes enacted in Flagstaff, Arizona – the world’s first International Dark Sky Community – guided efforts to update and strengthen the Sedona code language. The new outdoor lighting ordinance became law in 2001.
“Over the years KSB has worked with various government jurisdictions and conducted educational outreach to help protect our skies from light pollution,” said KSB Past President Tom O’Halleran. “KSB is committed to continuing those efforts in the future.”
As part of the process of becoming a Dark Sky Community, the City of Sedona appropriated funds to bring City Hall into full compliance with the code and to provide resources for lighting retrofit projects such as that carried out at Posse Grounds Park. In 2012-13 the city’s Outdoor Lighting Small Grant Program provided 50 percent matching funds totaling $10,000 to encourage businesses to bring their grandfathered outdoor lighting into compliance with the ordinance. Earlier this year Sedona approved further protections that expanded the use of adaptive controls and light curfews for city-owned lighting.
The dedication of Sedona residents and city officials has certainly paid off according to Dr. Stephen Leshin, a physician with a retirement home in Sedona. “Living here, it’s hard to imagine how many millions of people who live in light polluted cities can’t even see individual bright stars,” he said. “We are fortunate and grateful here in Sedona to have dark skies to enjoy.”
Congratulations to Sedona…sort of. It is too bad that the KSB was sending crickets when we needed their help in combating the light pollution that has been introduced on 89A in west Sedona. Now they tout the great success. It is too bad that KSB is more of a political action committee than what they once were.
By the way – as a semi professional photographer, who looks at Cathedral every night from the same angle as the photo in this article, and one who has photographed the Milky Way, that same picture more than once, I can say that one of two things: 1) the photo was taken 3-4 decades ago, or 2) it has been altered in Photo Shop or some other editing software. The glow from the Village of Oak Creek pretty much wipes out the sky for 10 to 15% above the horizon.
If it makes everyone feel good, then I suppose that is OK. Flagstaff also has the designation, they acquired it in 2001. But the reality is that all the actual professional telescopes have been moved out of Flagstaff, about 22 miles away as the light pollution has made using real equipment impossible. IDA is more of a marketing thing than a reality. Too bad.
I would like to clear up the question of the photo. I am the person who took this photo on September 25, 2013 a little before 8 PM from the Cathedral Rock trailhead parking lot, see credits under the photo. Camera, Canon 6D =, 18 sec exposure, 28/3.5, ISO 3200 custom white balance. As a former member of the KSB board and Dark Sky Committee, I took this and other night photos around Sedona for the express purpose of using them in pursuit of the Dark Sky designation.
I did use Photo shop to lighten the exposure, vibrance, saturation but did not use anything more complex as it would disqualify the photos from use for said purpose. Indeed, one can see the light pollution from VOC in the lower left hand corner. It serves the purpose of showing the damage the light pollution causes and why it is important that we try to mitigate the further degradation of our night skies.