BEVERLY SHORES | A grass-roots effort by Beverly Shores residents to curb light pollution along Lake Michigan's shores has been recognized by an international organization.
The Tucson, Ariz.-based International Dark-Sky Association on Tuesday acclaimed Beverly Shores as the seventh community in the world to be recognized as an International Dark Sky Community.
The designation puts the tiny duneland town of 5.83 square miles and 613 residents in the same ranks as Flagstaff, Ariz; Isle of Coll, Scotland; Borrego Springs, Calif.; Isle of Sark, Channel Islands; Dripping Springs, Texas; and Homer Glen in Will County, Ill.
"Beverly Shores is proof that small towns can do big things," IDA acting Executive Director Scott Kardel said in a prepared statement Tuesday morning. "Their commitment to night sky preservation places them in an elite, but growing, group of communities worldwide."
Residents Alan and Rosemary Bell have spearheaded the campaign to reduce light pollution in Beverly Shores. The couple joined the town's Environmental Committee in 2006 after learning about light pollution from a magazine article.
They quickly embarked on a campaign to alter the town's 61 streetlights to direct light toward the ground, thereby reducing glare. The move is easier on aging eyes and improves safety by providing clearer visibility in dark areas.
The Bells worked with NIPSCO to install shields with flat bottoms directing light downward. NIPSCO agreed to a reduced rate for the work, if the town provided matching funds.
The town did not have the money needed, so the Bells started a fundraising campaign. They had to stop collecting because of the overwhelming support.
Besides the downward-facing shields, the town also reduced the number of streetlights from 61 to 48.
The couple also worked to educate residents about improving outdoor lighting on their own properties.
"The concerted efforts of our town government, community association, businesses and individual residents to reduce all sources of light pollution in our town have been an exemplary model of a community working together toward a primary goal," William Gilmer, president of the Association of Beverly Shores Residents, said Tuesday in a prepared statement.