Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Southwest’s First Urban Refuge Earns Urban Night Sky Place Designation

October 24, 2019

Contact(s):

Jennifer Owen-White, jennifer_owenwhite@fws.gov


The Valle do Oro NWR outdoor classroom shines at night.

The Valle do Oro NWR outdoor classroom shines at night. Credit: © Laurel Ladwig

Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), the first urban wildlife refuge in the Southwest, has earned the official designation of an Urban Night Sky Place (UNSP), the first of such a designation in the world, by the International Dark-Sky Association.

The refuge, located in the Mountain View neighborhood of the South Valley- Albuquerque, New Mexico, has been working to achieve the UNSP designation for the past three and a half years and received the official certification in early October. The designation means Valle de Oro NWR, according to the official UNSP title from IDA, is a property “near or surrounded by a large urban environs whose planning and design actively promote an authentic nighttime experience in the midst of significant artificial light.”

According to IDA, the refuge is worthy of recognition for its efforts to educate the public on the benefits of proper outdoor lighting that ensures public safety while minimizing potential harm to the natural nighttime environment. “The designation of Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge as the world’s first IDA Urban Night Sky Place is particularly noteworthy at a time when cities around the world grow ever-brighter,” IDA Executive Director Ruskin Hartley said. “This achievement shows that lighting where we live and work matters, and we can think of no better example for the first designation of this kind than a place like Valle de Oro that exemplifies how humans and wildlife can coexist, day and night.”

Valle de Oro NWR focuses educational efforts on teaching preservation of natural habitats and the wildlife that live in them, and has worked to ensure the lighting at the refuge is warm white or yellow color, 3000 Kelvin or lower and fully shielded.

“The key is to light only when and where you need it,” says Refuge Manager Jennifer Owen-White. “One of our goals as a refuge is to educate the public about wildlife habitat while maintaining and preserving the habitat for wildlife near the Rio Grande bosque. The designation means we are hitting the mark in helping the public and wildlife co-exist in a protected space, so close to an urban, metropolitan area. We want people and wildlife to enjoy the refuge, and keeping it dark when needed minimizes any harm to wildlife while allowing people to learn about the night sky and its wonders.”

The UNSP designation will be celebrated at the “Valle de Oro Public Star Party and Bosque Stargazing” on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. The free event, which runs from 6-10 p.m. at the refuge Outdoor Classroom, is hosted by Valle de Oro NWR and The Albuquerque Astronomical Society, and features a brief announcement and sky tour of visible constellations. Participants will also have a targeted viewing of plants including Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. The group also plants to view star clusters and nebulae with a variety of telescopes.

IDA’s award-winning International Dark Sky Places Program offers six designation categories, with the UNSP as the newest among them. The program, founded in 2001, aims to encourage communities, parks and protected areas around the world to preserve and protect dark skies through responsible lighting policies and public education.

Valle de Oro NWR is located at 7851 Second Street SW—just 3.5 miles south of Rio Bravo Boulevard in Albuquerque.  Established in 2012, the Refuge offers a unique environmental education and recreation opportunity in a highly populated area while promoting a wildlife conservation message. It is part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, a national network of lands and waters managed for the benefit of wildlife, habitat and the American public.  

For more information visit http://www.fws.gov/refuge/valle_de_oro/

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service.

For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov. Connect with our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/usfws, follow our tweets at www.twitter.com/usfwshq, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwshq.

 

                                    - http://www.southwest.fws.gov -


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel and download photos from our Flickr page.