Presidio Passes Ordinance Dedicated to Preserving Night Skies

Presidio Passes Ordinance Dedicated to Preserving Night Skies

By Alicia Neaves

NewsWest 9

PRESIDIO - A huge boost for tourism in West Texas are the starry skies in the Big Bend region. The City of Presidio is making moves to preserve their beauty.

The City of Presidio passed their Outdoor Lighting Ordinance with full support by the council. That makes them the final city in the Big Bend region to pass an ordinance dedicated to preserving their night skies.

When some wish to stargaze, they might have to drive to the country. For those in the Big Bend region, they can simply walk out the front door.

The City of Presidio passed an outdoor lighting ordinance to make that a possibility. For the past 25 years, the McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis has urged the City of Presidio to act on passing an outdoor lighting ordinance. Mayor John Ferguson thought, why not right now?

"McDonald Observatory has a very important mission. The dark skies also are part of tourism in the Big Bend, so we want to make sure we're doing our part," John Ferguson, Mayor of the City of Presidio, said.

The observatory's Dark Skies Initiative promotes the awareness of "light pollution", which they define as, "Any adverse effect of artificial light, including sky glow, glare, light trespass, decreased visibility at night, energy waste, and more."

"As we're able to make these changes, not only is it going to darken our night skies, but it's also going to be a significant reduction in energy consumption," Ferguson said.

Even neighboring Ojinaga jumped on board the "go green" wagon by changing over to LED lights.

Some adjustments to outdoor lighting will be made.

"Lighting that is shielded that will be projected downward to the ground and not lead up past the horizon," Ferguson said.

All illuminated signs will be asked to be turned off by 11 p.m. or until the business closes, and outdoor internally lit signs will have an opaque background and translucent letters or a colored background and lighter letters.

The city will spend some time educating residents on the ordinance. All exterior lighting shall comply on or before January 1, 2015. Any failure to comply will be subject to a warning, then a fine of $25 a day, each day of noncompliance.