ST. GEORGE — The tiny Southern Utah town of Torrey has been officially designated as an International Dark Sky Community, becoming one of only 18 communities in the world to enjoy the distinction.
The town of approximately 240 people located just southwest of Capitol Reef National Park took several steps to preserve the night sky, allowing residents and visitors to enjoy a star-filled horizon without the distraction of light pollution.
The designation was awarded by the International Dark Sky Association, a nonprofit organization based in Tucson, Arizona, that advocates for the protection of the nighttime environment and dark night skies by educating policymakers and the public about night sky conservation.
When Capitol Reef National Park was designated as an International Dark Sky Park in 2015, Torrey residents and other Wayne County citizens also began working toward International Dark Sky Community status for Torrey.
“While those who came before us left us our dark night skies to love, now we leave a legacy to generations of future residents of this special place we proudly call home,” Torrey Mayor Scott Chestnut said in news release issued by the International Dark Sky Association. “We’ve often been accused of being ‘in the dark,’ but now we’re being honored for it!”
In a partnership with the Torrey-based Entrada Institute, citizens raised money to replace the town’s high-pressure sodium streetlights with dark sky-friendly, fully-shielded LED lights.
A coalition of leaders supported the effort, including town council members, Torrey and Wayne County residents, local business owners and people from across the country.
“My 72-year-old heart skips a beat every time I see the glow of the Milky Way core rising from behind the silhouettes of hills where I know there is no nearby city to explain the intense brightness of this glowing,” Torrey resident Bonnie Kaufman said. “It is eerie, breathtaking and spiritual.”
To maintain its International Dark Sky Community status, Torrey must continue to preserve its night sky through education and awareness materials, dark sky events, exhibits and programs.
“As Torrey joins the IDA family today, together we take a major step forward in achieving an important goal of the International Dark Sky Places Program to join parks and neighboring communities in dedication to preserving their shared night skies,” International Dark Sky Association Executive Director J. Scott Feierabend said.
“Torrey has proven its commitment to protecting this resource for the benefit of both its residents and national park visitors,” Feierabend added.
An official celebration will be held in Torrey during the Heritage Star Festival Oct. 5-6.
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