For the week of February 24, 1999  thru March 2, 1999  

Dr. Dark’s Rx

Dr. Steven Pauley wants to save the stars for the future. Not the stars of Hollywood fame, the stars in the sky.

At 5,000 to 6,000 feet in the Wood River Valley, the star-studded night sky is stunning. As the valley grows, urban-style lighting could turn it into nothing more than a sulphurous glow.

Anyone who lives in a dark canyon knows that the loss of the night sky has already begun. The glow of city lights along ridge rims grows stronger every year.

For several years, Pauley, aka Dr. Dark, has waged a campaign to preserve the night sky. Ketchum officials were listening.

The city has drafted a first-of-its-kind Dark Sky Ordinance that calls for limitations on street and yard lighting.

Mercury vapor street lights would be banned in favor of lights that produce less glare. Streetlights and yard lights would have to be directed downward and contain shields to stop light from traveling upward. Landscape lighting would also be prohibited.

The Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission will decide March 8 after a public hearing whether to recommend passage of the ordinance by the City Council.

Is it crazy? Unnecessary? No. As the valley grows, the night sky will disappear. The Milky Way, rosy alpenglow and the northern lights will become something found only in storybooks.

Dr. Dark deserves thanks for bringing it up. The valley can have night lights and night skies too. Ketchum and other valley cities should go with his prescription.


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