North Fork Dark-Sky Initiative & Limiting Light Pollution

Montauk Point State Park, Montauk by Brian Stahl

WHAT IS LIGHT POLLUTION?

Light pollution is “the inappropriate or excessive use of artificial light,” and consists of four factors:

  1. Glare: Excessive brightness that causes visual discomfort
  2. Skyglow: Brightening of the night sky over inhabited areas
  3. Light Trespass: Light falling where it is not intended or needed
  4. Clutter: Bright, confusing, and excessive groupings of light sources

Light pollution is costly and affects people, wildlife, and outdoor environments—most noticeably, it limits our view of the starry night sky.

The Town of Southold Board, at their January 5, 2021 meeting approved resolution 2021-70 to recognize International Dark Sky Week in April 2021. It resolved, “that the Town of Southold recognizes the importance of the dark night sky as a natural resource to be protected and restored where possible.”

The resolution also included these statements:

  • Southold Town residents value the region’s rural character, including a clear night sky unspoiled by artificial lighting; and
  • the Town of Southold has enacted a local law to establish standards for outdoor lighting and thereby protect the values of the local nocturnal landscape; and
  • the Southold Town Comprehensive Plan further recognizes the importance of limiting light pollution in the long-term interest of its residents; and
  • International Dark Sky Week has become a worldwide event, recognizing the dark night sky as a natural resource to be protected, and restored where possible; and
  • International Dark Sky Week, also promotes installation of “Dark Sky” compliant lighting systems and encouraging the study of astronomy; and
  • in this same spirit, Southold Town has endeavored to improve its own lighting practices and will tum off or reduce most outdoor lighting at Town Hall, in observance of International Dark Sky Week.

RESOLVED, that the Town of Southold is designating [*dates corrected to April 5-11, 2021] as “International Dark Sky Week.

This International Dark-Sky Association Week will help bring awareness to this important issue and presents an opportunity to educate residents, businesses, and town entities alike to make improvements to their existing and proposed exterior property lighting. For example, Outdoor Lighting Basics includes approved fixtures.

Dark sky friendly lighting consumes less electricity by redirecting previously wasted up-light to the ground, allowing for the use of lower wattage bulbs. Source: www.texanbynature.org/projects/dark-skies-initiative/

The Dark Sky Association (in Utah) has a useful assessment guide to limiting light pollution.

Town of Southold Lighting Code: Chapter 172

North Fork Dark Sky Coalition members currently include:

  • Bob DeLuca, President & CEO of Group for the East End
  • Debbie O’Kane, co-ordinator of the North Fork Dark Sky Coalition; President, North Fork Audubon Society
  • John Carter, Vice President Mattituck-Laurel Civic Association
  • Laura Klahre, Blossom Meadow Farm
  • Dawn Carroll, North Fork Environmental Council
  • Steve Bellavia, Custer Institute. Custer Observatory is an astronomical observatory owned and operated by Custer Institute. Located in Southold, New York, facing Peconic Bay and Shelter Island, Custer’s location boasts some of the darkest skies on Long Island.
  • George Lomoga, Commissioner Mattituck Park District
  • Marina DeLuca, Social Media Consultant
  • Mary Eisenstein
  • Susan Harder, Dark Sky Society-Consultant to Dark Sky Coalition

Interested in joining the coalition? Please contact Mary Eisenstein at chrysl@optonline.net

The coalition meetings are open to the public and will be posted here when the information becomes available.

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