Colorado Dark Sky Certification Mentor Summary Report- Sangre de Cristo Dark Sky Reserve

Sangre de Cristo Dark Sky Reserve (Sangre de Cristo) was approved to participate in the Colorado Dark Sky Certification Mentor Program by the Colorado Tourism Office and DarkSky Colorado in December 2022. 

Located in South-Central Colorado, the proposed Sangre de Cristo Dark Skies Reserve (SdCDSR) will span over 4,200 square miles and include all or parts of eight counties including Costilla, Alamosa, Saguache, Chaffee, Fremont, Custer, Huerfano, and Las Animas Counties, including lands under National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and US Forest Service jurisdictions. The proposed Reserve encompasses three designated International Dark Sky Places: the Towns of Westcliffe and Silver Cliff, both Dark Sky Communities certified in 2015, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, an International Dark Sky Park certified in 2019, and the International Dark Sky Community of Crestone designated in 2021. 

San Luis Valley Great Outdoors (SLV GO!) formed the Sangre de Cristo Dark Sky Coalition in 2019 and has been the main point of contact and liaison with the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) since that time. They submitted the pre-application and application fee in 2019 and are working towards certification. 

Sangre de Cristo was paired with Camille Richard, a consultant mentor, to deliver 50 hours of consulting to conduct the activities listed below. Camille has over 30 years experience in the natural resource sector with a solid background in community facilitation, organizational and program planning and management, and ecosystem monitoring. She is versed in Dark Sky outreach and education, the International Dark Sky Places application process, and land use code development.


The purpose of this project was to develop a strategic process that will be needed to gain government officials’ support for this effort, get adoption of lighting ordinances in at least 80% of the proposed Reserve area, and regulating 80% of the population.

Project objectives included: 

  • develop a strategy to achieve International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) Reserve designation
  • develop summaries of relevant information including land and population statistics, current ordinances and proposed updates, SQM, lighting inventory data, and other notes, in order to keep information accessible and organized and for use in outreach meetings and workshops
  • identify regional and state-level collaboration opportunities to advance certification


Sangre de Cristo achieved the following results with its Dark Sky Certification Mentor:

  • completed IDSR applicant checklist of tasks to identify current status of certification process and what remains to be done
  •  lighting management plan to include inputs from DarkSky International, Coalition members, and other experts; educational elements to highlight importance of lighting ordinances; and list of definitions 
  • GIS analysis and review of census data to calculate the population and areas of all county, municipal, and state/federal jurisdictional boundaries within the Reserve, providing data that identified county and municipal governments to target for ordinance development to reach the 80% population and 80% area needed for Reserve designation 
  • summary tables for each priority governmental entity that shows the provisions of the Lighting Management Plan and the current status of lighting provisions in municipal and county codes, to be incorporated into the proposal
  • approved San Miguel County revised ordinance for lighting
  • Dark Sky Summit meeting notes regarding state-wide collaboration
  • summit map showing all current and pending Dark Sky Places in the state in relation to existing light pollution
  • presentation on the SdCSDR

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.