Norwood Dark Sky Advocates (NDSA) announceS the arrival of a plaque from the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) to commemorate Norwood’s designation as an IDA Dark Sky Community.

Norwood is the first Dark Sky Community on the Western Slope of Colorado, the second in the state, and the 22nd in the world.

An installation ceremony will be held soon at the Lone Cone Library, which has set up a Dark Sky “corner” in the Chamber of Commerce area. A celebration gathering will follow. Details will be provided soon.

The quest for this designation began in March of 2015 and through diligent and persistent work was granted in February of 2019. Norwood had to provide IDA with several qualifying activities: quantifying the darkness of our area using specialized sky-brightness instruments, having a town land-use code lighting section scrutinized and passed by IDA inspectors, and gathering proof of community endorsement. Also required were several items related community outreach, explaining the impacts of light pollution and how to create exterior lighting that reduces light pollution while still providing the positive aspects of outdoor lighting.

It appears that as the Norwood Dark Sky Community designation was noticed by the state and regional communities via news releases; it has inspired several other small towns and a few mid-sized ones to make the same effort.

In addition, shortly after the February news, Governor Jared Polis proclaimed June, 2019 as Colorado Dark Sky Month. This was followed by a similar proclamation by Town of Norwood Mayor C. Kieffer Parrino.

Norwood Dark Sky Advocates were a small group, over the years: Bob Grossman, Creighton Wood, Valentine Szwarc (Ridgway), Brady Barkemeyer, Cindy Chapin, Katie Sapp, Andrew Kaufman and Melanie Stenson. Wells and Grossman began the process by independently contacting IDA about a Norwood designation.

The sky-brightness observations were mainly made by Grossman, Szwarc and Wood with help from Stenson. Chapin, with the help of lighting expert Sapp, guided the group through the process to change the town’s code to comply with IDA standards for a small, rural community.

All were involved in the outreach with Grossman, Barkemeyer and Wood providing newspaper articles. Barkemeyer created and maintains the NDSA website (https://www.colorado.edu/norwood-stars/).

All went to the community for individual support letters, which were crucial to the designation process. About 20-24 percent of the town voiced a positive response; a large number for this kind of activity. Support was also obtained from the Norwood Town Board, boards of San Miguel and Montrose county commissioners, and U.S. Senator Michael Bennet.

Additionally, Wood gave talks to various age groups at the library, recorded a presentation for broadcast by KVNF Public Radio on behalf of the Black Canyon Astronomy Society, and encouraged the fledgling Paonia Dark Sky group at a meeting there. Recently Grossman and Wood were interviewed by Radu Tudor of Radio France Internationale, the French equivalent of NPR, for broadcast in Romania.

NDSA would like to emphasize that its mission is to provide ideas and support for smart exterior lighting that reduces light projected upward and horizontally (called light trespass) by redirecting that light downward where it belongs for work and security as well as smart timing for lighting using timers and motion detectors.

Now, NDSA needs community support through committed membership to help continue the IDA requirements, which will be reviewed in five-year increments. Those who wish to reduce light pollution, preserve the starry sky, and the science of astronomy (which began the Dark Sky movement) should contact Grossman at (970) 901‑6717 or Wood at (970) 729‑0981, email Woody@PinonWoodRanch.com or mail Norwood Dark Sky Advocates, PO Box 767, Norwood, CO  81423.