County News

Following in the footsteps of Sedona, the Village of Oak Creek now holds a distinction that few communities in the world boast about.

Dark-Sky Committee Chairwoman Joanne Kendrick received notice late last month that the VOC — also known as Big Park — complied with all the requirements set by the International Dark-Sky Association — making it just the 14th community in the world to hold that distinction.

In its letter to Kendrick, IDA officials noted that Flagstaff, Sedona and Big Park area is the densest grouping of dark-sky communities in the world. Kendrick said Camp Verde and Cottonwood may be the next communities in the Verde Valley to pursue this designation.

“The dark skies above Big Park are so beautiful they take one’s breath away,” she said. “It’s a joy to see the wonder of our dark night skies and to know that the community wants to preserve the magnificent dark night sky for us and for future generations.”

Dave Norton, vice president of Big Park Regional Coordinating Council, added, “We have many astronomers living in our community, so we have a deep appreciation for the value of our night skies.”

According to its guidelines, an IDA Dark-Sky Community is a town, municipality or other legally-organized community such as an urban neighborhood or subdivision that has shown exceptional dedication to the preservation of the night sky through the implementation and enforcement of quality light codes, dark-sky education and citizen support to dark skies.

Two years ago, Kendrick lead Sedona’s successful effort to become dark-sky compliant. She said that experience helped her the second time around when asked to assist in the VOC’s efforts.

And like in the case of Sedona, she said this distinction will mean a lot to the community.

“The dark-sky designation enhances awareness by residents, visitors and businesses of light pollution and what we can do to prevent or reduce it,” she said, adding that astronomy tourism is a segment of the industry that is on the rise.

One of IDA’s requirements to be dark-sky compliant is to have the backing of the community. Kendrick said that was never a problem in Big Park.

“The support from the community to pursue the dark-sky designation was wonderful,” she said. “There is no doubt that the community values this natural resource and is dedicated to preserving the dark skies.”

She said the Yavapai County’s Outdoor Light Pollution Control Ordinance needed a few changes, which was assisted by County Board District 3 Supervisor Chip Davis and staff.

“Everywhere we turned, the community was behind the goal of the designation,” she said.


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