Torrey earns Utah’s first International Dark Sky community designation

Mountain of a Thousand Lakes near Torrey. PHOTO: John Benson

TORREY, Utah – Torrey has earned a distinction only 18 communities in the world have achieved. 

The International Dark Sky Association awarded the town as Utah’s first  International Dark Sky Community.

The International Dark-Sky Association said,

An IDA International Dark Sky Community is a town, city, municipality or other legally organized community that has shown exceptional dedication to the preservation of the night sky through the implementation and enforcement of a quality outdoor lighting ordinance, dark sky education and citizen support of dark skies. International Dark Sky Communities excel in their efforts to promote responsible lighting and dark sky stewardship, and set good examples for surrounding communities.

Torrey is adjacent to Capitol Reef National Park, which was designated an IDA International Dark Sky Park in 2015.

It is the first such U.S. national park ‘gateway community’ to earn the International Dark Sky Community designation.

Officials said Torrey’s dark-sky status is key to preserving abundant natural nighttime darkness in Capitol Reef.

“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,” IDA Executive Director J. Scott Feierabend said. 

As part of the efforts to avoid light pollution, the Torrey Town Council implemented an outdoor lighting ordinance requiring street and building lighting to be shielded and directed toward the ground.

“We’ve often been accused of being ‘in the dark,’ but now we’re being honored for it,” Torrey Mayor Scott Chestnut said.

Residents also raised money, in partnership with the Torrey-based Entrada Institute, to replace the town’s high-pressure sodium streetlights with dark sky-friendly, fully-shielded light-emitting diode (LED) lights.

“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,” said Torrey resident and realtor Bonnie Kaufman. “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.

An official celebration is planned in Torrey Oct. 5 and Oct. 6, during the Heritage Star Festival.