In partnership with local communities, private landowners, and state and federal agencies, SLV GO! has been working to achieve “Dark Sky Reserve” designation from the International Dark Sky Association (IDA). The purpose of this project is to protect and steward the region’s night sky through responsible lighting policies and public education. If SLV GO! is successful in achieving the Dark Sky Reserve designation, the Sangre de Cristo International Dark Sky Reserve will be the largest official area protected from artificial light in the world! SLV GO! and partners believe this designation will be an asset to the region in terms of human health and safety, wildlife and ecosystem vitality, and the local economy.
The Sangre de Cristo Dark Sky Reserve will encompass the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness managed by the U.S. Forest Service, public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Great Sand Dunes National Park, and will span over five counties in the region including Saguache, Alamosa, Costilla, Huerfano, and Custer counties. The valley’s high altitude, dry climate, rurality, and huge swath of public lands is conducive to natural darkness and exceptional sky quality.
SLV GO! is coordinating and managing the Sangre de Cristo Dark Sky Coalition that represents a multitude of interest groups throughout the region who are all committed to protecting our dark sky resource. This coalition was formed with the intent to hold each other accountable in the completion of the IDA’s rigorous application process for the International Dark Sky Places conservation program. The process requires applicants to demonstrate robust community support and document designation-specific program requirements. With support from the local community, SLV GO! intends on submitting the Dark Sky Reserve application in 2022.