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Julian, California, Named an International Dark Sky Community

Julian, California, Named an International Dark Sky Community Image

The Milky Way rises over Lake Cuyamaca, a recreation just beyond the edge of Julian, California. Photo by Kevin Wixom.

Five years after beginning its dark-sky journey, the southern California mountain town of Julian has been accredited by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) as an International Dark Sky Community. It is the thirtieth such designation in IDA history, and only the second in California.

As part of the certification process, the Julian Dark Sky Network worked closely with officials from surrounding San Diego County, California, to affect changes to the County’s outdoor lighting ordinance. The results help pave the way for future communities in the County to become certified by IDA.

“The dedication of the Julian Dark Sky Network to achieving today’s outcome is significant for all of San Diego County,” said IDA Executive Director Ruskin Hartley. “A path forward to IDA accreditation has been opened for unincorporated cities and towns there as a result of the Network’s efforts.”

Enacting a quality outdoor lighting policy is at the heart of achieving International Dark Sky Community status. Since Julian is a non-self-governing town under California law, County action was required to make it eligible for IDA consideration.

Julian’s new status benefits the other International Dark Sky Community in California, the town of Borrego Springs, which is also located in San Diego County. Like Julian, it is an unincorporated municipality whose lighting policy is now formally codified in the county law.

On the heels of today’s news, the Julian Dark Sky Network now turns its attention to on further educating the community about the importance of preserving the important natural resource of nighttime darkness. Members hope that their work will inspire other communities, both in southern California and beyond, to follow their lead and take proactive steps to improve the nighttime environment in their territories.

As more parts of southern California are brought under legal protections for dark skies, locals envision even bigger plans. In addition to the two International Dark Sky Communities, San Diego County is home to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, which became an IDA International Dark Sky Park in 2017.

Some think this portends bigger things for the region. “We’re at a threshold point where we can decisively reverse decades of growing regional light pollution and see the emergence of a whole region of dark sky appreciation and preservation,” said JDSN founder Doug Sollosy. “We’re elated to help bring about such a region of communities and public parks in a highly populated area like Southern California.”

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