Oracle Seeking to Become an ‘International Dark Sky Community’

Our Milky Way Galaxy (photo by Graham Holtshausen, used with permission)

Sam Miller

Oracle has recently initiated the early stages in the process of obtaining the designation as an International Dark Sky Community. Oracle residents and businesses are hoping to follow in the footsteps of Oracle State Park, which was designated an International Dark Sky Park in 2014. The benefits of a Dark Sky designation to the community are primarily the national and international recognition as a community that is dedicated to protecting the environment and reducing the contribution to climate change brought about by light pollution. The formal recognition, awarded by the International Dark-Sky Association (which is headquartered in Tucson), allows the community to advertise the designation locally and internationally as an eco-friendly area. The designation signals a welcome to potential residents and visitors such as environmentalists, naturalists, astro-tourists, and to businesses that are concerned about the culture in which their employees live and work.

The Oracle community has a long history of protecting the night sky, primarily by encouraging its citizens and businesses to comply with existing Pinal County Outdoor Lighting ordinances, and also supporting the activities at Oracle State Park. Oracle residents enthusiastically support the Park’s cultural initiatives, such as the afternoon and evening events at the recent Dark Sky Cultural Festival and the David H. Levy Arizona Dark Sky Star Party.

A Dark Sky Community designation could apply to an area beyond the boundaries of just Oracle Town and could even include SaddleBrooke Ranch and possibly San Manuel. Discussions are in progress with those communities on the benefits of the designation as well as how and who participates. An essential first step in the process is to form a Dark Sky Committee and the leadership who will organize the process. Preliminary meetings of Oracle and SaddleBrooke Ranch residents have produced job descriptions for the leadership positions and outreach efforts to contact interested individuals. Of the initial four positions, chair, vice-chair, secretary, and treasurer, only the treasurer has been identified. Anyone who has an interest in leading and/or participating in this important environmental effort should contact Oracle resident Mike Weasner ([email protected]) or SaddleBrooke Ranch resident Chip Parfet ([email protected]).

Chair: The chair of the Oracle Dark Skies Committee (ODSC) will lead the committee in the pursuit of the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) “International Dark Sky Community” (IDSC) designation for Oracle. The chair will coordinate meetings, activities, public outreach, and be the main focal point with IDA, local government agencies, residents, and business owners, as required to meet the IDA IDSC requirements.

Vice-Chair: The vice-chair of the ODSC will assist the chair as required. The vice-chair will act on the chair’s behalf during any absence of the chair.

Secretary: The secretary of the ODSC will record and publish minutes of ODSC meetings, collect evidence (photographs, media reports, etc.) and prepare documentation (with the assistance of all ODSC members) to support the Oracle IDSC application to IDA. The secretary may also handle social media and ODSC website updates.