Dark skies bill signed into law

Dark skies bill signed into law
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak signs SB 52 into law establishing a voluntary dark skies program. Image: Governor's Office

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak last week signed Senate Bill 52 into law, establishing a voluntary, locally-led “Dark Sky Designation” program to protect and promote the state’s iconic night skies.

The legislation was sponsored by Lt. Gov. Kate Marshall’s office in coordination with the Nevada Division of Outdoor Recreation.

“Nevada is home to some of the most beautiful night skies on the planet,” said Lt. Governor Marshall. “The signing and implementation of the Dark Skies Bill celebrates this uniquely Nevadan asset by encouraging protection of this public resource, while also sharing it with visitors to our state and thereby increasing tourism opportunities for rural cities and counties.” 

In a statement announcing the signing of the bill, the governor’s office said that excessive artificial light pollution doesn’t just affect night sky viewing opportunities. It can also negatively impact public health and quality of life, research, outdoor recreation, and native plant and wildlife species.

Several tourism destinations in the state tout their dark night skies as part of the attraction for visitors. Marshall’s office has worked with both Tonopah and Beatty on initiatives promote dark skies tourism to their communities.

The International Dark Sky Association also recognizes two locations in Nevada as dark sky sanctuaries – of which there are only 14. Those locations are Great Basin National Park in the eastern part of the state and the Massacre Rim Wilderness Area in the northwestern part of the state near the Oregon border.