Hays County residents are fortunate enough to have the Milky Way visible throughout much of the area. The night sky is part of our heritage and reminds us of our connection to the universe. Almost every living thing on earth uses the cycle of dark and light to trigger life processes. Unfortunately, poorly thought-out lighting can take away our dark skies and interfere with natural life cycles.
Effective outdoor lighting has many benefits. However, the way that many outdoor lights are designed and installed, the amount of light chosen, and the light’s color fail to take into account the needs of other life on this planet, the nature of the human eye, and current scientific knowledge. Poor outdoor lighting can:
- Wastes billions of dollars each year in energy costs.
- Produces glare, which reduces safety, decreases our ability to see, and jeopardizes security.
- Creates light clutter that diminishes property values and is unattractive.
- Creates light trespass that irritates neighbors.
Remember, even a small amount of artificial light can damage our immune system and interfere with plants and wildlife.
The solutions are simple:
- Shield each light so that the illumination is directed downward and outward where it is needed.
- Use the right color temperature for the task and time of day (no bright white lights after dark).
- Reduce the amount of light produced, because once the light is concentrated by the shield, it takes less light to illuminate the same area.
- Turn off the light when no one is there to use it. Criminals need lights to see, too.
In Hays County, we are proud that the City of Dripping Springs was the first in Texas and sixth in the world to be designated an International Dark Sky Community.
Inspired by the City of Dripping Springs, The Wimberley Valley, consisting of the cities of Wimberley and Woodcreek, began pursuing the International Dark Sky Community designation in 2016. Lead by Hays County Master Naturalist, Shannon du Plessis, the Wimberley Valley Dark Sky Committee achieved the designation for The Wimberley Valley in June 2018.
More and more Hill Country communities, businesses, and individuals have “seen the light,” so to speak, and are making certain that the source of their lighting is not visible from any other property.