Categorized | Community, News

Llano partners with nearby cities, utilities for dark skies program

CONNIE SWINNEY • STAFF WRITER

LLANO — Several Hill Country communities will join forces with electric utilities to launch a “dark skies” program aimed at reducing light pollution, which takes an economic, health and aesthetics toll on growing communities, officials say.

Llano, Mason and Fredericksburg have created a regional partnership to launch the initiative.

“It saves money. It saves energy and allows us to be able to see the stars at night, and our kids and grandkids being able to see them, which is becoming increasingly rare,” said Llano Main Street program manager Tex Toler. “It serves to educate people on how they can do things that don’t create light pollution or what they call light trespass, where obnoxious lights shine into other people’s property.”

A public meeting hosted by the participating communities is scheduled for 4 p.m. June 19 at the LanTex Theater, 113 W. Main St.

Residents and businesses will learn the meaning of terms such as “sky glow,” “light clutter,” “light trespass” and “light pollution.”

Characteristics of light pollution, include lights that:

• produce glare and reduce visibility;

• create light trespass;

• waste money by unnecessarily lighting spaces;

• limit the view of stars and planets;

• and impact human and animal health

Pedernales Electric Cooperative, Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative and Central Texas Electric will play a role in the initiative by offering cost-saving incentives, public light fixture assessments and resources.

Among the first cities in Texas to participate in the dark skies programs were Dripping Springs, Blanco, Boerne and Helotes.

Also, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the McDonald Observatory and the International Dark Sky Association participate by hosting stargazing, night sky preservation parties, light pollution education programs and self-guided constellation tours.

Just outside Llano, Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, designated as a Dark Sky Park, has installed a sky-quality monitoring station.

For some communities, participation might include passing ordinances to offer residents ways to reduce light pollution. For others, it involves educating their citizens.

In May, the Llano City Council passed a resolution for pledging support for the dark skies program.

“Some people are thinking this is another government overreach. (The upcoming meeting) will allay some fears,” Toler said. “It’s not a mandatory legislation that’s going to make people have to change their lights. It’s voluntary, and it’s educational.”

connie@thepicayune.com

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