A Call from Bradburn on Dark Skies: Lumens and Ranchers

Dear Editor,
I received a very cordial phone call from Jim Bradburn, the president of the Astronomy Club, in which he explained some Dark-Sky guidelines concerning a dark sky reserve which shed more light on the subject than my poor old brain previously picked up.
My main concern was the effect the proposed addition to the zoning resolutions would have on our ranchers. The effect would be nothing because of Resolution 98-14 Establishing a right to ranch and farm policy of Custer County which protects our ranchers and farmers from all complaints having to do with their ranching and farming.
There is a definition on page 24 of the August 17, 2016, Custer County Zoning Resolution entitled LIGHT POLLUTION which states, “Degradation of the night sky by artificial light rays above the projected horizontal plane of a light fixture.” From what I gather all concerned ranchers have agreed to place hoods on their outdoor lights.
The International Dark-Sky Association wants the subject of the very bright LED light bulbs addressed by the County Commissioners. The proposed amendment (8.2.G) to the Zoning Resolution states “In order to minimize light pollution, all outdoor lighting shall be of a rated correlated color temperature of 3000 Kelvins or less, and any light source exceeding 500 initial lumens must be fully shielded. ETC. A table is included which shows that in incandescent lighting the watts is 200, fluorescent is 50 watts, LED is 27-43 watts. All of these are 3000 lumens. (All outdoor lighting that now exists is “grandfathered in”)
The wording of this amendment would place it in the criminal and civil penalty category because of non-compliance.
Now, then, I must address the concerns of those opposed to the amendment. The idea of having yet another regulation to abide by is repugnant to those who want less government. In this county, that is the majority of the people. It isn’t that they don’t want to use the proper temperature light bulb or the shields, it is only the proposed regulatory amendment to the Zoning Resolution which is the thorn in the side especially with the penalty which is involved in the only recourse that is available to get the Dark-Sky recognition, our Zoning Resolution. The Zoning Resolution includes penalties. We have no county protocol, management plan, etc. other than the Zoning Resolution. There has got to be another way to word this amendment in order to keep it from becoming yet another burden on the freedoms we cherish.
By the way, a Dark-Sky Reserve consists of (1) a core area meeting the minimum criteria for sky quality and natural darkness, and (2) a “peripheral” or “buffer” area that supports dark sky values in the core and while receiving similar benefits.’ Custer County’s core area? The Beckwith Ranch? Perhaps?
Linda Anderson
Rural Custer County