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Helping Promote Dark-Sky Initiatives

Castle Pines resident Ryan Parker served for eight years as the chairman of the Colorado chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association. He’s encouraging homeowners to turn off, switch out or dim their lights to prevent light pollution at night.

Ryan Parker remembers fondly the vibrance of the night sky while growing up on a farm outside of Golden.

These days, he’s encouraging neighbors, and anyone else who will listen, to turn off, dim, change out or shield their lights to help reduce the potential for light pollution. The increase in population over the last 25-30 years has made it harder for Colorado stargazers to pinpoint the constellations or see the International Space Station cruise overhead.

Parker is so committed to decreasing light pollution that he served for eight years as chairman of the Colorado chapter of International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), which oversees a “Dark Sky Places Fund,” a “Citizen Science Fund,” and the “Lights Out Colorado” program. The “Dark Sky Places Fund” awards money to current and prospective IDA Dark Sky Places for lighting retrofits and other associated expenses.

Parker, a resident of the City of Castle Pines for 22 years, says his neighbors have been receptive to “environmentally responsible” outdoor lighting tips to keep light from spilling beyond their property line.

But history has not always helped the cause. Efforts to dim the lights at night hit a snag in the 1980s during a crime-prevention campaign that recommended people keep their lights on at night. Those bright lights, Parker says, create hard shadows that actually make it easier for would-be criminals to hide. Night lights also provide a better ability to see for those seeking to commit crimes.

Aside from protecting views for people, the night lighting-reduction initiative also helps millions of migratory birds navigate their way to warmer climates and avoid becoming disoriented, Parker said. Nocturnal pollinators, like moths, can also be impacted. “We have a night shift that people forget about,” he added.

June was designated Colorado’s “Dark Sky Month,” and Parker is helping to plan a “Nature in Our Neighborhood” event on July 8 from 7:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. for the first 120 people to sign up.

Parker has met with elected officials at the municipal and county level about amending building codes to require the use of light shields and lighting systems that reduce light pollution while at the same time conserving energy. He worries that his concerns are not being heard and believes a public-pressure campaign could help change things. However, he said that it is encouraging that homebuilders have incorporated practices that prevent excessive light pollution.

Parker is also supporting House Bill 22-1382, which is designed to encourage the designation and promotion of dark sky locations in Colorado. He argues that dark sky designations could help promote tourism to the state.

To learn more about the Colorado chapter of the IDA, visit It’s a private group, so people will have to request to join to get more info.

By Chris Michlewicz; photo courtesy of Ryan Parker and courtesy photo



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