Colorado wants tourist destinations in the state to darken their skies

In conjunction with the Colorado chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association, the Colorado Tourism Office has created a mentor program designed to help destinations around the state become certified as dark-sky places — and advance the worldwide dark-sky movement.

Under the direction of the legislature, the Colorado Tourism Office is providing technical assistance to help groups and individuals pursue dark-place certification for their communities. CTO is currently taking applications for grants to participate. The application period began two weeks ago and closes Nov. 10. Instruction will begin in December.

“We’re losing the night very rapidly, and there is no better time to start protecting our treasured resource that is our dark skies in Colorado,” said Aaron Watson, board chair of the Colorado Chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association. “We’re really excited for this program to increase awareness about dark skies and to give a boost to our dark-sky places going for certifications.”

A bill adopted by the legislature last spring requires the CTO to:

  • Provide technical assistance grants for applicants seeking direct support from the International Dark-Sky Association for activities related to international dark-sky designation.
  • Provide education and outreach about dark skies and to promote responsible and sustainable tourism opportunities in designated dark sky places in the state.

The CTO will provide grants so participants can receive 50 hours of free instruction to help their communities reduce light pollution and preserve access to night skies. Participants will learn how to:

  • Apply for International Dark-Sky Place certification and create support in their communities for designation.
  • Write local ordinances to reduce light pollution and energy consumption.
  • Measure darkness levels with a “Sky Quality Meter.”
  • Host community dark-sky events.
  • Promote visitor experiences related to stargazing.

As designated by the International Dark-Sky Association, Colorado is already home to 10 dark-sky parks — including three of the state’s four national parks — and five dark-sky communities.

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