A Collaboration to Protect Our Night Skies...


In a collaborative effort to educate, protect, and inspire wonder in our natural night skies, the Institute of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism has partnered with the National Park Service's Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division to become the home of the Colorado Plateau Dark Sky Cooperative (CPDSC) and the Basin and Range Dark Sky Cooperative (BRDSC). The Cooperatives bring together local, state, and federal land management agencies with tribal partners, businesses, and nonprofits to celebrate the cosmos, minimize the impact of outdoor lighting, protect and restore natural darkness, and promote astronomy-based outdoor recreation and tourism.

The Cooperatives are linked through the Western Night Skies Council (WNSC) which provides a platform for increasing dialogue, sharing resources and information, and providing mutual support for the diverse groups of night sky conservation advocates throughout the Western United States.

The goals of this partnership are to:

  • Extend the reach of the CPDSC and BRDSC to increase awareness and bring individuals and communities together to enjoy the benefits of natural night sky protection.
  • Promote the tools, expertise, and support for on-the-ground efforts to minimize light pollution.
  • Provide educational materials and activities for youth and amateur astronomers.
  • Elevate the economic opportunities associated with dark sky tourism.

Interested in getting involved?

The Colorado Plateau and Basin and Range Dark Sky Cooperatives encompass two distinct geographic areas that together represent the largest remaining dark sky region in the contiguous United States.

Sign up to join the Dark Sky Cooperative Network to receive the monthly Cooperative Newsletter. With each newsletter, you can enjoy the dark sky spotlight-of-the-month, learn of new tools aimed to protect this natural resource, and find out about upcoming events and other ways you can get involved with dark sky conservation.

Click the links below to find out how the Dark Sky Cooperatives are working to protect the natural night skies. Explore the Dark Skies Toolkit designed for municipalities, parks, and private citizens. Learn about the importance of dark skies, ways to reduce artificial light pollution, and opportunities to enjoy spectacular views of the cosmos. 

The Western Night Skies Council

Basin & Range Dark Sky Cooperative

Colorado Plateau Dark Sky Cooperative

GNAR Dark Skies Toolkit
dark skies toolkit

Protect the Night - Save the Dark

Geographic Regions of the Cooperaties

Benefits of natural night skies:

The need for natural darkness and opportunities to reduce artificial light are often overlooked.

Some of the benefits natural night skies free from artificial light provide include:

  • Supports proper functioning of natural ecosystems
  • Promotes human health, both medical and psychological
  • Encourages energy efficiency
  • Secures scientific exploration of the cosmos and educational benefits
  • Protects cultural heritage and practices that involve starry skies
  • Ensures a full wilderness experience



Lisa Stoner, Coordinator for the Colorado Plateau and Basin and Range Dark Sky Cooperatives

               National Park Service Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division Logo               

      Institute of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism

This effort is supported through a Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Units (CESU) Agreement with the
Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division of the National Park Service and the Institute of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism at Utah State University.