Dark Skies Fiasco
To the Editor:
The new “law” the County Commissioners are attempting to force on the citizens of Custer County regarding county wide lighting restrictions with fines and imprisonment is the most INSANE regulation I’ve ever heard of!
Ranchers of the county have livestock to be protected from predators i.e. bear, mountain lions, coyotes, wild dogs etc. and tended to for injuries or illnesses. These do not occur only during the daylight hours (usually in the middle of the night, has been my experience).
My exterior lights actually saved the life of Robert Powers during the time he and his wife, Virginia “Ginny”, lived in Aspen Ridge at the west end of Junkins Park.
He was on his way to orchestra practice in Cañon City one very cold winter evening when his car slid off the road in Puma Canyon and ended in the creek bed. He (carrying his bassoon) then walked two miles down to McKenzie Junction for help. Finding no one home there except a young dog (that should not have been out in that cold either). He then had no choice but to start back up the canyon toward home. He was almost “done in” when he saw my lights on. (My house was about 1/2 mile off the county road).
He had now walked approximately 10 miles mostly uphill in the dark sub-zero temps. He headed for the light! By the time he got to my place it was about 10:30 p.m. and he knocked on the door and called my name and identified himself. I opened the door a crack and when satisfied as to who he was (he was unrecognizable because of his ice/snow crusted face and beard) and said you can come in but your dog has to stay outside, (because I had cats and a dog and didn’t want a fracas). He uttered the famous Peter Sellers line “But it’s not my dog,” in all sincerity and I chuckled and said, “Come on in and I’ll get a coat and the Jeep.”
So off we went to Aspen Ridge — Bob, the dog and me. Had it not been for those lights, he would have surely frozen to death before he reached his home. That was another four plus miles uphill from my place, extremely cold temperatures (well below zero) and a very dark night. Ever since, I have been considered Bob’s and Ginny’s hero. Unfortunately, they’ve had to move back east due to Ginny’s health and to be closer to their children, but we do still keep in touch during the holidays.
Bottom Line – Yes, good exterior lighting is very necessary in Custer County!
I suggest the current county commissioners perhaps would be better suited to someplace like Boulder, or Chicago, or New York City and try their Dark Skies experiments where they might be appreciated. Or better yet, consider going out to an isolated area in Custer County on a cold dark night, alone with only a 40-watt light, and see how well they like it.
Lorene B. Cushman
Rural Custer County and Niwot, Colorado