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Valley County Communities: Turn Down the Lights, Dial Up the Stars

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MICHAEL J. BENNETT, CC BY 3.0
Pushing back against what they call "light pollution," some residents want to keep Valley County in the dark.

The Wood River Valley was the first Idaho community to see an official "dark sky ordinance" when, in 1999, the city of Ketchum began limiting exterior lighting on commercial and residential properties. The cities of Hailey and Sun Valley followed suit in 2002 and 2004, respectively.

In Valley County, the city of McCall crafted its own dark sky ordinance in 2006. Now, the city of Cascade is working on its own rules to turn down the lights.

The McCall Star-News reports the Cascade Planning and Zoning Commission is drafting an ordinance that, if approved, would require all outdoor lighting to be "hooded or shielded downward so as not to produce glare or cast light on any adjacent property." Additionally, no lights could be mounted more than 30 feet from the ground. Official street lights would be exempt.

The Star-News reports Valley County has an existing outdoor lighting ordinance for areas outside the Cascade or McCall city limits.

The ordinances have been championed by the Valley County Astronomical Society, which is pushing for Valley County to host a dark sky festival, similar to a 2015 event held in in Jasper, British Columbia.

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