New Lighting Ordinance Promotes Darker Skies, Safer Streets

26 June 2000

ALPINE, Texas: On May 23, 2000, the Alpine City Council unanimously approved a new lighting ordinance, which took effect June 22. The ordinance represents a successful collaboration by several people, including Alpine City Manager Doug Lively; James Walker of the Big Bend Astronomical Society; Mark Adams and Bill Wren of the University of Texas’s McDonald Observatory; and Roland Pena, Manager of Community Services for AEP-West Texas Utilities in the Big Bend and Western Regions.

Officially known as "An Ordinance to Improve Outdoor Lighting in the City of Alpine, Texas," the ordinance preserves the darkness and clarity of the night sky that make this part of west Texas such an ideal locale for astronomy, while providing safer, more efficient outdoor lighting that conserves energy and reduces waste.

"It’s a real credit to the hard work of the City of Alpine and everyone involved that such a positive piece of legislation came out of this process, ensuring quality outdoor lighting for citizens and dark skies for the Observatory and other star gazers," said Wren, Public Affairs Specialist II at McDonald Observatory, the darkest professional observing site in the continental United States.

"I believe we have a good ordinance that is enforceable and is fair to everyone," added Walker, area resident and secretary of the Big Bend Astronomical Society. "Our new lighting ordinance will reduce light pollution, keep the sky darker so we can see the stars better, and conserve energy."