Movement built to preserve the dark skies of Leelanau | News

OMENA – Leelanau Dark Sky Defenders plan to take their message on the road in 2022. The grassroots effort engages landowners and local governments in the movement to reclaim the night sky heritage of the Leelanau Peninsula.

“Our mission is to preserve the natural night sky that supports human health and to raise awareness that artificial light has an effect on our world, wildlife, birds and even plants,” said Phyllis Rebori, Co-Chair of Dark Sky from Leelanau Energy. Committee.

The 13-member all-volunteer group is a standing committee of Leelanau Energy, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting renewable and efficient energy.

The committee is expanding its reach this year from Northport and Leelanau Township to Suttons Bay, Empire, Glen Arbor and other communities on the Leelanau Peninsula.

The group’s trifecta approach integrates education, collaboration and inspiration. The initiatives work to improve understanding of light pollution and how outdoor lighting can improve safety by reducing glare and directing light where it’s needed – and to awaken people to celestial beauty.

“We can’t go and change the lights, but we can give people a reason to change their lights,” Rebori said.

She said the committee’s outreach will build on what it has accomplished since its inception in 2018. Working with the local government, the group helped secure funding for the Township of Leelanau to replace the lighting in the fire station and the town hall by lighting aligned with the objectives of the dark sky.

He was instrumental in helping the U.S. Post Office in Omena adopt a dark sky lighting plan and also helped the Village of Northport and the Township of Leelanau develop resolutions supporting dark sky standards.

The committee, a member of the International Dark Sky Association, partners with both public and private property owners to reduce light pollution. He helped Tom’s Food Market and Deep’s Corner Store in Northport upgrade parking lot lighting to new dark sky standards.

Rebori said converting lighting to dark sky standards doesn’t have to be expensive. He can start by switching from bulbs that produce white or blue light to ones that produce warmer glows. Another step is to install fixtures that direct the flow of light where it’s needed, rather than projecting the light outward.

Businesses may find that adopting new standards requires a significant investment, but it saves money in the long run. Leelanau Energy reports that low-wattage, warm yellow bulbs can save up to 70% in energy costs.

Committee co-chair Jane Gale, administrator for the village of Northport, said the organization is looking for opportunities to help fund additional local conversions.

Gale said the group is currently involved with staff at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse in Leelanau State Park in creating an outdoor lighting inventory and will provide advice on improving lighting in support of the preservation of the night sky. The group is also supporting an ongoing lighting upgrade project at Northport Marina.

Leelanau Dark Skies presentations cater to groups of the past ranging from families first to Northport lions.

Going forward, volunteers will continue to operate information stations in downtown Northport during the weekly Farmers Market and maintain an information display at the Village Visitor Centre. Gale said the volunteers intended to support all future Northport Arts Association ‘Enchanting Night Sky’ celebrations, as it has done before.

Inspirational dark sky preservation awareness drives one star gazer at a time. Gale said community libraries are natural partners in this effort. The advocacy group will initiate new connections at libraries across the peninsula in 2022, sharing facts about light pollution and opening our eyes to the joys of blue sky viewing.

The committee engaged new fans of the night sky when it helped launch a library telescope program in 2021. The initiative partnered with the committee, the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society, and Jerry Dobeck of Northwestern Michigan College , Enerdyne of Suttons Bay, Leelanau Township Library and Suttons Bay Bingham Library. The program provided telescopes for departure allowing guests to explore the cosmos.

“The telescope loan program has been so popular in the library and sparks interest in astronomy, enough that we’ve ordered more books for our collection on the subject,” said Cora Schaeff, acting director of Leelanau Township Library. She added that increased interest in the night sky led to waiting lists for equipment throughout last summer.

Anyone interested in learning more about dark sky preservation or volunteering with the Dark Sky Committee can contact

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