There are fewer than a dozen dark-sky reserves on Earth—places where the skies are so "exceptionally dark" that they receive the elite designation from the International Dark-Sky Association, attracting astronomy lovers from around the world. Now Idaho hopes to be the first US state to make it onto this list, with local activists vying for nearly 20 years to keep light pollution to a minimum and achieve this esteemed star-gazing status, NPR reports. "Here, in the heart of central Idaho, we see things differently," reads the website dedicated to the in-progress Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve. "We've come to acknowledge that this pristine night sky is part of our heritage and worth preserving for our children and future generations."
The resort town of Ketchum was made an IDSA Dark Sky Community in October, and since then efforts have ramped up to meet the ultimate goal of becoming the first US reserve. Toward that end, Ketchum and other nearby communities receive guidance on upping their chances via the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve site, which recommends residents reevaluate their existing lighting to make sure it's "dark sky friendly" and invite friends and neighbors to join the cause. The IDSA will reportedly decide by year's end whether the Idaho reserve is a go, but in the meantime, residents keep on keeping the lights out and the skies viewable. "Everybody seems to comply with it," says one local in Ketchum. "I think the ones who don't are people who just move here and aren't familiar with it. … When they realize how nice it is, then they're compliant." (Read more Idaho stories.)