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The Mountain West News Bureau is a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The Perils Of Light Pollution As Mountain West Population Booms

The Milky Way over Longs Peak in Colorado
The Milky Way over Longs Peak in Colorado

It’s International Dark Sky Week, a time to look up and enjoy the night sky across the globe.  Our region is home to many dark sky parks and communities. We’re also home to lots of growth and that means growing light pollution.  

Amanda Gormley is with the International Dark Sky Association. She says the perils of a light-polluted sky are severe. Artificial light can interfere with the pollination for some nocturnal animals, like moths. Up to 30%, one study says.

And Gormley’s group has solutions. The organization helps cities mitigate the biggest source of light pollution-- street lamps -- by “making sure the light is pointing to the ground,” she says, “instead of lighting up the sky.”

This has the benefit of saving energy, Gormley says. It also helps animals flying overhead. And it helps you and me.

“People who have access to the night sky say that they feel more connected,” Gormley says, and it helps them understand their place in the world.”

You can check out all the Dark Sky events in your area this week at www.darksky.org

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Copyright 2020 KRCC. To see more, visit KRCC.

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