The Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve protects one of the darkest places in the United States and provides stargazers a pristine view of the heavens. Communities in and around the reserve recently signed on to a management plan for the sprawling reserve.
The memorandum of understanding, or MOU, links the cities of Stanley, Ketchum and Sun Valley with Blaine County and the U.S. Forest Service to oversee management of the reserve.
Stanley Mayor Steve Botti led the charge on securing the reserve status for the night sky above central Idaho. He says the MOU establishes a framework to coordinate priorities for the reserve.
“Most of it will be coming up with an annual work plan which will be things like what sort of lighting initiatives are we going to take in this coming year?” says Botti. “And then, educational – interpretive programs, those need to be coordinated. You know, if there’s going to be a star party, where will those be, and how will they be promoted?”
Botti says the MOU will unite the focus of the five entities that have signed on. One community will not be able to prioritize tourism aspects of the reserve while another dedicates itself to fixtures more beneficial to curbing light pollution.
Since the 1,400 square mile reserve was formally recognized in December of 2017, Botti says he’s heard, anecdotally, that tourism is up in the region.
“Maybe one of the annual projects under the MOU would be to actually document that,” the mayor says. “Are we getting 10% more tourism now because of it, or 5% or what? Those kind of things would be useful pieces of information.”
A formal signing ceremony for the MOU is planned for May 23.
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