Two hours east of Minneapolis, Minnesota and three hours north of Madison, Wisconsin, you’ll find yourself in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Eau Claire, incorporated in 1872, currently has a population of over 65,000. The University of Wisconsin has a satellite campus here and an interesting fact about the city is that America’s Promise named Eau Claire as one of the "100 Best Communities for Young People" in 2007.
So, maybe it’s no surprise that the city of Eau Claire is currently having a lively discussion about the merits of dark sky lighting. In Monday’s Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, the article Dark Sky rules up for discussion paints a picture of residents wanting to curb the ever increasing bright lights so they can see the stars again.
On Oct. 12th the city council will meet to talk about a proposed outdoor lighting ordinance to reduce light pollution and save energy. Thankfully, these goals go hand in hand.
The amendment aims to minimize outdoor light "that is misdirected, excessive, or unnecessary."
The ordinance writers are not starting from scratch. Outdoor lighting regulations have been passed in cities throughout the US, Canada and Europe. Some of the ways the ordinance would meet these goals would be to set a watts per square foot lighting regulation in conformance with the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code.
Other ideas to curb light pollution include setting maximum pole heights that will provide effective lighting while not creating "off-site glare." Outdoor light fixtures need to be installed according to dark sky lighting standards to reduce excessive lighting and glare.
Currently the council is gathering public input. 4 out of 5 comments posted agree with the objectives of the ordinance, going so far as to call it a no-brainer and talking about the wish to remove unnecessary lights along city streets.
I’ll be watching to see how this turns out.
I did not read anywhere in the article where anyone is talking about energy and cost savings, which is high on every city and state governments’ agenda these days. A dark sky lighting ordinance will save the city money.
The article recommends visiting Dark Sky Society for more information. It’s a great website.
Dark sky lighting choices – you’ll be sure to find the perfect fixture for your own home from among hundreds of choices here.