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Jonestown becomes latest Central Texas city to be named an 'International Dark Sky Community'

Starry night skies stretch over Jonestown, which has been named the latest International Dark Sky Community in Texas.
Michael Minasi
KUT News
Jonestown, located on the north shore of Lake Travis in northwestern Travis County, is the latest Central Texas city to be named an "International Dark Sky Community" by the nonprofit organization DarkSky International.

Jonestown, a small city located on the north shore of Lake Travis in northwest Travis County, is the latest Central Texas city or town to receive an "International Dark Sky Community" designation by the non-profit organization DarkSky International.

To receive the designation, a city or town must demonstrate "strong community support for dark sky advocacy and strive to protect the night from light pollution," according to the organization's website.

City leaders have worked toward this goal since 2021 when they established a volunteer committee called the Jonestown Night Sky Advocacy. The committee "created a baseline inventory of city lighting using light meters, mapping programs, and monitors to evaluate compliance and identify necessary improvements in residential, business, and city-owned lighting," according to a news release.

The city also adopted a more environmentally responsible outdoor lighting ordinance in December 2021.

"As our community grew, we realized our night skies needed protection from increasing light pollution," Jonestown Mayor Paul Johnson said in the release. "The city decided an improved lighting ordinance was necessary. An ordinance that would address light pollution and protect our night sky heritage."

Part of the ordinance specifically tries to prevent what is known as "light trespass."

This means all outdoor lighting, except for city-owned street lights, must be shielded to prevent the light source from being visible from any other nearby property.

Lecia Ellis said she first got involved with the committee in 2021 to help address light trespass issues in her neighborhood. But it's her life-long appreciation for the night sky that has prompted her to stay involved more than two years later.

"I've always had a fascination of the dark and the dark skies. I just have some kind of connection somehow, it feels like, with the night sky," Ellis said. "It's such a shame that so many people don't see it."

Other Central Texas cities and towns that have been named an "International Dark Sky Community" include Bee Cave, Blanco, Dripping Springs, Fredericksburg, Horseshoe Bay and Wimberley, which was also named Dark Sky Place of the Year last November.

Kailey Hunt is KUT's Williamson County reporter. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @KaileyEHunt.
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