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Boise State Students Work to Create First Dark Sky Reserve in the U.S.

By: Brady W Moore   Published 8:45 am / September 13, 2017

A team of Boise State graduate students from the School of Public Service teamed up with the Idaho Conservation League to create and submit an application to establish the first dark sky reserve in the United States.

A dark sky reserve, according the the International Dark Sky Association (IDA), is public or private land with an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural, heritage and/or public enjoyment. Reserves must meet minimum criteria for sky quality and natural darkness, and have a peripheral area that supports dark sky preservation.

The application was submitted to the IDA, a 501(c)(3) non-profit founded in 1988 dedicated to protecting the night skies for present and future generations. To produce the report, the capstone class taught by Monica Hubbard analyzed best management practices as well as the social, economic, and ecosystem benefits of a dark sky reserve between Ketchum and Stanley. They also produced a feasibility analysis.

Hubbard described the experience as enlightening for both herself and the students. “This wasn’t a one time project – it created opportunities for Boise State students to work on future community and academic projects with the Consortium for Dark Sky Studies,” said Hubbard.

The student authors conducted extensive interviews with dark sky advocates across the country and around the world, contacting 71 advocates; applicants who worked on reserve applications abroad, applicants who wrote Dark Sky Park and Dark Sky Community applications in the United States, and nonprofit advocates. They received 35 responses, via telephone, Skype or email in both English and French.