Crow’s Nest: Night lighting

August 18, 2019

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager.

In an effort to make the preserve more accessible for evening programs we are gradually upgrading the outdoor lighting, illuminating paths in a way that doesn’t annoy our neighbors or pollute the night sky with excess light. We host a few community groups in our visitor center at night for monthly meetings, and occasionally hold night walks or other nighttime events here ourselves.

Step one has been to light the path leading from the barn ramp to the lower level meeting room of the barn. Low voltage, low energy-use LED lights are mounted on the fence posts to light the footway without any glare to the eyes. Good lighting, a particular interest of mine, illuminates that which needs to be seen but ideally the source of the light is not itself visible. They are also a warm-white color temperature (at or below 3000 degrees Kelvin) to minimize potential impact on wildlife. And though the lights can be set on a timer or a dusk-to-dawn photocell, ours will only be turned on when there is a program scheduled.

The festive holiday lights in the background which dimly illuminate the trail to the parking lot will be replaced in step two of the process. Though many admire the delightful space they create in the woods there at night, they really aren’t bright enough to use to navigate the path or the parking lot. They will be replaced by larger LED bulbs mounted on fabricated posts that line the path (instead of zig-zagging between the trees). Although they will be as prone to breaking from falling branches (we’re on our 5th or 6th generation of light strings now) they will be closer to the ground and easier to maintain. Look for this change before winter makes our nighttimes longer.

For more information about preserving dark skies and good design for nighttime lighting, check out the website of the International Dark-Sky Association.