The United States has established its very first International Dark-Sky Reserve—one of 12 found around the globe, and now third largest in the world. The designation was granted to the Central Idaho Dark-Sky Reserve by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), which says the region offers 3600km² / 1400mi² of "exceptional or distinguished quality of night sky, view of the stars and nocturnal environment."

The Central Idaho Dark-Sky Reserve IDA designation is a milestone for American conservation, not only protecting wildlife in the region from the negative effects of artificial light, but also giving visitors from around the world another place to view the pure night sky.

The US reserve and its international designation is the by-product of about 20 years of policy and hard work by Idaho residents, businesses, and officials, according to the IDA. The collective worked to reduce artificial light in central Idaho and agreed to manage artificial light in the region henceforth.

The boundaries of the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve. Image from Idaho's IDA application.

To get the special designation, Central Idaho land managers formed partnerships with IDA, committing to help preserve the quality of the pure, unadulterated nighttime environment. Ketchum, Idaho Mayor Nina Jonas talked about that, saying in a statement to the IDA:

This is the culmination of a lot of work, important policy decisions and commitment by so many to manage our light pollution. We're pleased what this says about the commitment our communities have shown to protecting our environment and spectacular window to the universe.

Central Idaho didn't only win an International Dark-Sky Reserve designation, though. IDA says it has granted this reserve its Gold Tier rating, meaning that the reserve offers one of the darkest night skies among all Dark-Sky Reserves. Information on the Central Idaho Dark-Sky Reserve, including a clear sky chart and map, are available here.