After years of work, Moab is close to submitting its Dark Sky Community Application in March. In the meantime, residents are asked to offer their opinions on new retrofitted lighting on Main Street from 300 South to Uranium Drive just south of City Market.

A total of eight streetlights were retrofitted, four with 3000k luminaries and four with 2400k. There are four lights on each side of Main Street, with the four to the north 3000k and the four to the south 2400.

Residents are asked to compare the color of light, the color of rendering and brightness, in terms of both safety and glare.

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The lights, which were scheduled to be installed Feb. 20, will feature “very low levels of blue light.” Sustainability Director Alexi Lamm said this provides a health benefit as blue light can impact the quality of sleep for humans and causes additional problems for animals.

In December, the city council amended city code to add regulations required by Dark- Sky International, formerly the Dark Sky International Association, the body that provides the certification.

Utah leads the nation with 23 designations, including Castle Valley, which was certified in January. Arches and Canyonlands national parks and Dead Horse Point State Park also enjoy dark sky certification.

With light pollution already a local issue, Moab has had to work a bit more arduously.

While the lights of Moab can be seen from Dead Horse Point, it’s the neighbor’s outdoor light people see trespassing through the windows of their homes that also drew the city’s interest.

It is that second problem that has “grown worse in the city,” said Lamm in December.

Outdoor lighting also has a negative impact on the environment, she said, as trees don’t go through natural seasonal changes. Moths and birds are distracted, affecting migration.

The city has been working on gaining dark sky certification for five years.

The focus of the recent amendments was on shielding lights so they illuminate downward rather than out or up and on how many hours a day lights can be on. A business would turn off its outdoor lights once it closes, for example, although exemptions include hotels, which might close the front desk at midnight, but would keep the lights on until dawn out of safety concerns.

With the new amendments now approved, the ordinance will amortize on Jan. 1, 2029, at which time residents will have to comply or be approved for a legal nonconforming use. The city has the authority to address “nuisance lighting” before then.

“The biggest complaint is floodlights on garages shining into a neighbor’s window,” Planning Director Cory Shurtleff said in December.There is evidence that such lighting can actually impair a person’s vision. A photo of a floodlighted home made it impossible to see a man who was standing in front of an open gate.

There are myriad reasons to seek dark sky certification, health and safety being key, but there is another, perhaps more practical reason. Southeastern Utah’s dark skies already attract astrophotographers and other star gazers. An overly bright night in and around Moab would deprive them, and residents, from seeing the stars.

There is a program to assist people who can’t afford to change their lighting fixtures at “low to no cost.” The assistance can be applied for on the city website.