Letter to the Editor: When It Comes to Light, Progress and Prudence Can Work Together

Thank you, Door Peninsula Astronomical Society (DPAS), for the full-page ad extolling the virtues of keeping our Door County dark skies truly dark [Peninsula Pulse, Aug. 12-19 issue]. 

As businesses or new homes are built and existing homes are torn down, rebuilt and made bigger and better, it is more important than ever to think about our lighting practices. The price of progress and the need for being prudent can work hand in hand. 

Downlighting, shielded lights, timers, motion detectors, and amber or yellow lighting are all easy fixes to the problem. Better yet, use outdoor lights only when necessary, then turn them off – especially high-pressure sodium and LED lights.

Some of the reasons people travel to or move here are for the quaint towns, abundant natural beauty, peace, quiet and dark nights. All of this should be taken into account, particularly by our municipalities, as ordinances should be addressing this problem before it’s too late. The time is now, as the building boom continues.

As one who is responsible for keeping our International Dark-Sky Park status at Newport State Park, I applaud DPAS for taking a stand and pointing out that which is glaringly obvious (pun intended): Our dark skies are in serious jeopardy. The park is required to do sky-meter readings two times a year at a very minimum. If our numbers start showing too much light in the area, we could lose our Dark Sky designation.

Increasingly, as building continues and lighting goes unchecked, the sky glow to the southwest of the park coming from Sister Bay is obvious. If you think one light doesn’t make a difference, think again. Every light matters. 

It took many years to obtain our Dark-Sky Park status, and I echo DPAS’s sentiment to check out the International Dark-Sky Association’s website at There is a wealth of helpful information there. Our dark skies are a resource worth protecting.

Beth Bartoli

Naturalist, Newport State Park

Ellison Bay, Wisconsin