Deb Stueber, on behalf of a group in the West End, has an announcement to make: the Nucla and Naturita communities just became the 32nd Dark Sky Community in the world.

“I want to share our great news with Norwood that the West End towns of Nucla and Naturita have been officially designated as Joint International Dark Sky Association Communities,” she told The Norwood Post last week. “This coveted International Dark Sky Association (IDA) designation, as you know, was won through a rigorous application process. Our success was enhanced greatly by Norwood Dark Sky Advocate Dr. Robert Grossman.”

Stueber said Grossman was instrumental in the West End receiving its status. She said his guidance was “immensely helpful,” and his knowledge of the application process and encouragement brought the group to its designation goal. 

Additionally, the West End group received support from Creighton Wood of Norwood Dark Sky Advocates, as well as Norwood Mayor Kieffer Parrino. San Miguel County Commissioner Kris Holstrom supported the West End group with a letter, too. 

Stueber’s group thanks Nucla Mayor Richard Craig, Naturita Mayor John Riley and the super majority of both towns’ trustees, who all voted to adopt the new IDA Model Outdoor Lighting Ordinances. She added town clerks facilitated getting lighting ordinances passed and completing paperwork. 

Nucla board member Pam Curtiss helped prepare the West End’s IDA application to be scrutinized by the association’s highly credentialed scientist review board. Paula Brown from Nucla was also supportive of the process and as a member of the Nucla Town Board, facilitated this application coming together. Brown is also working to promote dark skies with an upcoming Colorado Star Gazing Tour that will include all the Western Slope's IDA Communities and Dark-Sky Places.  

The Board of San Miguel County Commissioners proposed to adopt county lighting policies to comply with an IDA Western Slope Dark Sky Reserve. Stueber said she hopes the "stars line up" and Montrose County officials do the same.

“This would cover approximately 2,700 square miles and only be the second IDA Reserve in the U.S.,” she said. “County residents would be assured to keep seeing their stars and, with smart lighting practices, they could protect their properties and save money while enhancing their health and well-being, as well as the health of insects and other pollinators, migrating and hunting birds, other wildlife, and stock animals in general. There is no downside to good lighting practices.”

Stueber said the West End group look forward to working with Norwood Dark Sky Advocates and celebrating at the Starry Skies Fair on June 19 at the Naturita Community Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

“We have a fun day planned with music, food, crafts, a drawing, and a silent auction,” Stueber said. “Of course, there will be Dark Sky information and displays on lighting and light pollution.” 

She invites the Norwood community to come celebrate.

“Now we can help keep our rare and truly spectacular dark skies dark, so we can keep seeing the Milky Way, even in town,” Stueber said. “Eighty percent of the U.S. can no longer see this amazing arm of our galaxy. We want our kids to continue to grow up seeing the stars.”