Introducing: The Western Night Skies Council

Introducing: The Western Night Skies Council

Guest: Aubrey Larsen, Colorado Plateau Dark Sky Cooperative

Download a high quality pdf of the article here

Dark sky preservation is inherently a regional issue. One municipality or park can make a significant difference, but efforts to minimize light pollution will be far more effective if regionalism is recognized and efforts expand beyond one location’s boundaries. Increased connection, communication and collaboration among dark-sky advocates throughout a region can lead to greater success in minimizing the impact of artificial light at night.


To provide a platform for sharing resources and information, increasing dialogue, and providing mutual support for the diverse groups of night sky conservation advocates throughout the Western United States, the Colorado Plateau Dark Sky Cooperative in partnership with the GNAR Initiative has spearheaded the formation of a Western Night Skies Council (WNSC).


The WNSC is composed of over 30 members representing state and federal agencies, community members, tribal nations, educational institutions, lighting and policy experts, non-profits, and local leaders throughout eleven western states.

Council members meet virtually on a quarterly basis and sponsor public webinars that provide opportunities for showcasing dark-sky advocacy work, knowledge and skill-sharing, network building, and other occasions to learn and connect.


What the Western Night Skies Council does will largely be decided by individual council members as they set goals together. As a new initiative, the WNSC has room to explore, grow, and adapt to the goals and priorities set by its members. Below are some of the priorities expressed by the Council:

  • Advocating decidedly in favor of preservation of the last remaining large ‘pools’ of natural darkness in the Lower 48 states.
  • Helping communities ‘touch’ the night sky for themselves whether it be by telescope, camera, or the naked eye if they touch it, they will protect it.
  • Measure, track, and highlight successes in the region to show how increased communication, connection, and collaboration result in positive outcomes for dark-sky preservation.
  • Inter-organizational communications, networking, resource and best-practice sharing, and outreach.
  • Helping communities and organizations understand the importance of preserving and protecting the dark sky and supporting local dark sky efforts.
  • High level discussion of night sky (and natural darkness) conservation needs, including support and possible funding sources for dark sky cooperatives.
  • Developing a complementary program, mission, and vision that does not overlap with other existing programs.
  • Increasing access and interest in dark sky ideology and certification including specific ordinance and enforcement detail.
  • Science-informed management; public communication and values.
  • Linking the value of dark skies with public health and local economic goals

The first Council-sponsored webinar will be held on Wednesday January 13th, 2020 at 2pm MST and will bring together a diverse panel of dark-sky advocates from across the Western States. Click the link below to register.


The GNAR (Gateway, Natural Amenity, Recreation) Initiative aims to leverage research, education, and capacity building to assist communities, land managers, and others in gateway and natural amenity regions throughout the West in preparing for and responding to planning, development, natural resource management, and public policy challenges.



Aubrey Larsen, CPDSC Coordinator at
Jake Powell, GNAR Initiative Lead at

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