Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Rappahannock County's Night Sky Conservation Initiative Steady and Strong

Rappahannock County is home to one of Virginia's three IDA-designated Dark-Sky Parks (believed to be the smallest by size) and its biggest voluntary night sky conservation community efforts.

This update appeared in the January 7, 2021 issue of  Rappahannock News

Pole light replacement

The Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection (RLEP) launched its free pole light replacement program in February 2018 as part of its Saving Dark Skies initiative to reduce the amount of light pollution in Rappahannock County. 

Since then, educates the league’s Torney Van Acker, RLEP has been involved in replacing over 230 unshielded lights with dark sky compliant lights at residences, businesses, churches, schools, the library, fire halls and public areas. 

The generous support of the Piedmont Environmental Council's Krebser Fund for Rappahannock County and other donors allows these replacements to be offered to county property owners free of charge.

“In 2021, you can still do your part to protect our night sky while ensuring sufficient lighting for safety and security,” writes Van Acker. “The replacement fixtures focus the light downward on targeted areas while saving energy and money. Our replacement fixtures use 60% less power and have a longer design life than traditional lighting. All replacement lights are installed by qualified electricians at no charge to the property owner.”

The voluntary program is available at no cost whether the pole light is leased from Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC) or is privately-owned. If you have an older style leased light, call REC at 540-727-2168 and request the free replacement with a dark sky compliant model. If you have a privately-owned light to replace, contact RLEP at 703-250-7943.

Comprehensive Plans for Two Virginia Localities Now Include Night Sky Conservation

In the past year and a half, the City of Staunton in the central Shenandoah Valley and Rappahannock County in the northern Blue Ridge and Piedmont both included language acknowledging the importance of curbing light pollution in their updated Comprehensive Plans. 

Staunton's Comprehensive Plan 
 includes references to dark skies and community friendly lighting standards. 

Rappahannock's Comprehensive Plan--just adopted on December 7, 2020--notes the value of the county's night skies as a natural resource.

Both documents are searchable using the CTRL+F function.  You can go directly to pages 62 and 86 of Rappahannock's plan.  In Staunton's Goals and Objectives, see pages 1-1, 1-2, and 1-9.