Let’s pause for a second and slip away from politics and policy, polarization and divisiveness, and
celebrate one of the greatest of natural phenomena found in Idaho—and a new Idaho
Conservation League achievement your support helped make possible.
Through the ages we have looked to the sky. The greatest of ancient monuments explore
celestial mysteries. Each great religion in one way or another is about looking up, not least of all
in this season, under the darkest of night skies, where a single star once sent a trio of wise men
towards a manger. For millennia a spiritual comfort has been found under a blanket of stars.
Advanced science has shown that we all do, in fact, come from the stars. The fabric of all living
beings is comprised of the same basic threads, elements that came to our planet over
imponderable spans of time from above and beyond. Stardust, you could say, is part of each of
From the beginning of humanity the night sky has united all beings, and in a time where people
may share less and less, every night every human still shares the mystery of what shines above.
Yet many have lost touch with the night sky. While Ben Franklin once wrote of the shadows
cast by the Milky Way in Boston, today 80 percent of people in North America cannot see
the Milky Way because of the ambient glow of surrounding light pollution. Many have never
I often write about Wild Idaho and what makes Idaho special. Our Idaho night sky around
winter solstice is extraordinary. Think back to warmer nights, laying on your back, catching
a shooting star, or having someone point out constellations and planets. In Idaho, with very
little effort, even urban folks can quickly access a relatively unimpaired view of the heavens. It’s
part of our life here, part of what makes Idaho Idaho.
This Idaho value just gained international recognition with our nation’s very first dark sky
reserve, formally designated on December 18, 2017. Gaining this designation has long been an Idaho Conservation League project supported by local community leadership, public land managers and more. The new Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve is not a designation bringing new regulation. It is a validation of the night sky resource we have in the sky now, and also recognizes what our local communities have placed in policy to protect it, with regulations about shielded outdoor lights and more. Importantly, the Dark Sky Reserve also recognizes the access that all Americans have to this Idaho resource, for we all can get there on a night drive along Highway 75, through the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, surrounded by both the Sawtooth and Boulder-White Clouds wilderness areas under a blanket of stars. The designation is granted by the International Dark-Sky Association.
The work of the Idaho Conservation League is often tough and often frustrating. But our work
every day—and every night—is inspired by the wonder of Idaho and the passion of Idaho people working to protect it. Tonight, I will raise a toast to each of you, and thank you for supporting our work and making our accomplishments possible. We have challenges ahead, and with your support, much work to do. But tonight is about gratitude, and stepping outside to admire the magic of an Idaho night sky. Thank you for your support of the Idaho Conservation League.