Idaho is now the place to be for stargazers. This week, the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) made it official with the first Dark Sky Reserve in the U.S. The 1,400-square-mile area stretches across three counties through mountainous terrain from Ketchum and Sun Valley in the south to Stanley in the north.
In order to receive this lofty designation, city leaders and residents in the area have committed to dark sky preservation by focusing on eliminating light pollution.
“This is the culmination of a lot of work, important policy decisions and commitment by so many to manage our light pollution,” Nina Jonas, mayor of Ketchum, shared in a statement. “We’re pleased what this says about the commitment our communities have shown to protecting our environment and spectacular window to the universe.”
During the last 20 years, cities like Ketchum and Sun Valley passed regulations to manage and minimize outdoor lighting. As a result, the area boasts an exceptional night sky with ideal conditions for star-gazing.
“The importance of today’s achievement to the dark-skies movement in the United States cannot be understated,” IDA Executive Director J. Scott Feierabend shared in a statement. “This is certainly a watershed moment in the history of American conservation.”
The Idaho reserve joins 11 others around the world. In fact, it is the third largest and one of the very best. The IDA gave the Idaho Dark Sky Reserve Gold Tier status, the highest level reserved for the blackest skies and minimal light pollution.
Certainly, this achievement was a group effort. “Citizens and city leaders, planners and business owners all had a hand in achieving this goal and preserving our quality view of the world above,” Dr. Stephen Pauley, a Ketchum resident and proponent of dark skies, shared in a statement. “We should all feel good about this and take a moment to think about the benefit this leaves for generations to follow.”
As a result, photographers can capture stunning images of the star-filled sky for years to come.
Finally, this Dark Sky Reserve gives a whole new meaning to being left in the dark. At least in Idaho, the dark nights look picture perfect.