Dark Sky Initiative
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Working to preserve the night sky in the Heber Valley
With the population of the Heber Valley steadily increasing, our night sky is becoming more and more polluted with unnecessary light.
The most effective way to reduce light pollution in Wasatch County is through citizen participation. As we promise to retrofit and update city lights to be dark sky approved, we ask you to update your own exterior lights. Widespread residential light reduction would tremendously improve our dark sky.
Heber Valley’s light pollution can be effectively reduced if citizens participate in these 3 steps.
1 - Invest in warm, low kelvin lights
The kelvin color temperature scale measures the wavelength of light being produced by a light source. The scale ranges from 1000k to 10000k, with 1000k being the warmest light and 10000k being the coldest light.
Low kelvin lights are better for the night sky.
Energy usage and total luminance are the same across the spectrum.
High kelvin and low kelvin lights produce the same amount of light. The higher the kelvin temperature, the higher the wavelength of light, and the more it pollutes the sky.
Lights 3300k and lower are great for exterior use.
2 - Invest in full cutoff light fixtures
Aiming light at the sky is useless and ineffective. “Full cutoff” fixtures direct all light towards the ground, lighting our streets, not our skies. Purchasing these for your own home will make your exterior lights more effective and reduce your light pollution footprint.
3 - Turn ‘em off!
Simple, right? Let’s work as a valley to turn our exterior house lights off when we don’t need them. Turning them off at 10pm or when you go to bed is great.
PRESERVING THE NIGHT SKY
By Council Member Ryan Stack
"For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream."
-Vincent van Gogh
Over the last few years Heber City has taken great strides to reclaim and preserve its night sky. The City’s burgeoning Dark Sky initiative includes actionable measures to reduce night-time light pollution, so residents and visitors can enjoy the night sky’s natural beauty. To this end the City Council has approved new ordinances and standards that equip the Engineering and Planning Departments with the necessary tools to protect Heber’s night sky. We have adopted updated standard drawings and specifications that require all public lighting to be dark sky compliant (the City first adopted dark sky compliant fixtures in 2019).
In 2021 the City Council voted to change the standard number of public lights required within a development. This new standard jettisoned the prior requirement to have a street light every 200-300 feet and replaced it with a requirement for lighting only at intersections with collector roads (while retaining discretion to require street lights at other critical points as required for public safety). This update also finally eliminated the ugly and tired cobra head lighting from the City’s road standards.
During this time the Council also voted to require all new buildings (including dwelling units) citywide to comply with City dark sky requirements. Now, all new buildings must have full cutoff exterior lighting. Full cutoff lighting shields the bulb and directs light downward, not up into the sky. This new standard is designed to substantially reduce light pollution and its impact on night sky visibility.
These updated codes and standards form the foundation for the next key stage. The City, in cooperation with Heber Light & Power, is about to start the process of retrofitting the street lights on Main Street so they become dark-sky compliant. Phase One, which is included in the current fiscal year’s budget, includes those lights between 400 North and 400 South. Phase two will focus on those lights north of 400 North and south of 400 South. Work is expected to begin on Phase One in the next month or two. City staff is also strategizing the best way to bring City-owned facilities into dark sky compliance by early Spring 2023.
Once these projects are wrapped up, City staff will shift its focus to those street lights located elsewhere in the City. Some neighborhoods have excessive street lights and/or outdated lights that should be retrofitted to become dark sky compliant. We want to hear from you! Please see below to submit your request(s), where you can nominate non-corner/intersection streetlights to be evaluated for retrofitting or even decommissioned.
With your help Heber City can reclaim its night sky!