Colorado Dark Sky Certification Mentor Summary Report- Friends of Browns Canyon

Friends of Browns Canyon (FOBC) was approved to participate in the Colorado Dark Sky Certification Mentor Program by the Colorado Tourism Office and DarkSky Colorado in December 2022.

FOBC represents the 21,589 acre Browns Canyon National Monument (BCNM), designated in 2015, and located in Chaffee County Colorado, between the towns of Buena Vista to the north, and Salida to the south. BCNM’s best-known feature is the Arkansas River, running north to south through the western edge of the monument.

Friends of Browns Canyon was paired with Ben Katz, a consultant mentor with experience as the Public Lands Program Director for the Western Slope Conservation Center, where he has been working to achieve a Dark Sky Park certification for the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area in collaboration with the Bureau of Land Management and the Colorado Canyons Association. He was tasked with delivering 50 hours of consulting to FOBC to conduct the activities listed below.


The purpose of this project was to advance the entire certification application process, including developing a nomination packet for BCNM with the goal of submitting in early 2024, guiding FOBC to create and implement educational events in the local community and in BCNM, doing a light inventory and light management plan, and aiding FOBC in taking Sky Quality Measurement (SQM) readings. 

Project objectives included: 

  • develop a framework for achieving dark sky certification for BCNM
  • assemble an initial skeleton of the nomination application
  • develop a plan for FOBC to sustainably take SQM readings in BCNM
  • develop and empower a coalition of groups, led by FOBC, who will work together to achieve and maintain the dark sky certification into the future


Friends of Browns Canyon achieved the following results with its Dark Sky Certification Mentor:

  • action plan to advance certification process
  • nomination application to submit IDA
  • instructions for taking SQM readings
  • stakeholder engagement documents to inform and educate the working coalition on certification commitments

About the Colorado Dark Sky Certification Mentor Program

The Colorado Dark Sky Certification Mentor Program assists locations across Colorado to advance strategies that help achieve International Dark Sky Place (IDSP) certification and enhance Colorado’s visitor experience. Program participants receive 50 hours of free consulting from DarkSky Colorado to implement activities that preserve and protect access to Colorado’s incredible night skies.