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The Town of Castle Valley becomes Utah’s fourth International Dark Sky Community

Arial view of a small town nestled between red rock desert mesas.

Castle Valley, Utah

The Town of Castle Valley proudly announces that it is now Utah’s fourth International Dark Sky Community. With 23 International Dark Sky Places designated, Utah has the highest concentration of International Dark Sky Place certifications worldwide, including the iconic sites of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.

“Followed closely by Texas with 20 certified International Dark Sky Places, Utah holds the current record for Places certified in the International Dark Sky Places program. This achievement is truly inspiring and worthy of celebration. This effort is the kind of engagement that the program was designed to inspire. Other regions of the United States and worldwide are quickly catching up,” Amber Harrison, Dark Sky Places Program Manager, remarked.

Castle Valley is located in the southeast corner of Utah, between the Colorado River, the La Sal Mountains, and the red rock mesas of southeastern Utah. The Town is a residential and agricultural community with no commercial zoning. Castle Valley is surrounded by an incredible high desert landscape topped by glorious star-filled night skies. It was incorporated in 1985, and its residents have always valued dark skies as a central feature of its character.

The Town of Castle Valley enacted its first Lighting Ordinance in 1991, which required all outdoor lighting fixtures to be fully shielded. After continued community support for dark sky preservation and in recognition of International Dark Sky Park designations for many of our surrounding national parks and monuments, the residents of Castle Valley requested that the Town pursue an International Dark Sky Community designation. The last six General Plan surveys revealed overwhelming support for this pursuit.

In the summer of 2021, a small team of interested residents got together and began work to update the original outdoor lighting ordinance to DarkSky specifications and fulfill other requirements for the certification.

The Castle Valley Dark Sky Team worked hard to educate residents and the Castle Valley Town Council to gain support for the new lighting regulations and, ultimately, for the Dark Sky Community designation. Town residents have two years to comply with the amended ordinance of December 2022.

“Living in Castle Valley is amazing for many reasons. Chief among them is the dark sky. Seeing. the Milky Way is something we can never get used to, or take for granted, even seeing it every night.” B. Williams

“The awe of the starry sky is a prime allure to be in Castle Valley. Please cherish it for generations to come.” C. McGuire

“There has always been support for the Dark Sky concept in the Town of Castle Valley,” D. Erley, former mayor of Castle Valley.

“We actively promote the dark skies here and hope to entice more customers in the future that appreciate their significance.” S. Osumi, owner of local bed and breakfast.

We aim to continue Dark Sky education and outreach for both residents and visitors to Castle Valley and to work with our Grand County neighbors to preserve our dark skies. We are also committed to supporting the city of Moab in its quest to become an International Dark Sky Community.

About the International Dark Sky Places Program:
Founded in 2001, the International Dark Sky Places program is a non-regulatory and voluntary program to encourage communities, parks, and protected areas worldwide to preserve and protect dark sites through effective lighting policies, environmentally responsible outdoor lighting, and public education. When used indiscriminately, artificial light can disrupt ecosystems, impact human health, waste money and energy, contribute to climate change, and block our view and connection to the universe. The Town of Castle Valley now joins more than 210 Places that have demonstrated robust community support for dark sky advocacy and strive to protect the night from light pollution. Learn more by visiting https://staging.darksky.org/what-we-do/international-dark-sky-places/.

About DarkSky International:
The mission of DarkSky is to preserve and protect the nighttime environment and our heritage of dark skies through environmentally responsible outdoor lighting. Learn more at darksky.org

Contacts:
Jocelyn Buck
Town Clerk
[email protected]

Amber Harrison
Dark Sky Places Program Manager, DarkSky International
+1 (520) 347-6363
[email protected]