SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – More than 80% of North America residents can’t see the Milky Way at night.

In 23 areas in Utah, that isn’t the case.

The Beehive State has the highest concentration of accredited International Dark Sky Places including Fremont Indian and Goosenecks State Parks, which recently received Dark Sky designations.

Utah Governor Spencer Cox has declared April 2021 as Utah Dark Sky Month to recognize the state’s 23 designated areas and the great responsibility that comes with them.

“Dark skies are integral to the well-being of many animal and plant species, and they have positive health impacts on humans,” Gov. Cox’s Office says. “The astrotourism industry is anticipated to generate nearly $6 billion and support more than 113,000 new jobs in the American Southwest over the next decade. And The implementation of dark sky practices in land use, construction, utilities, and other aspects of community life actively promotes local governance, reduces energy-costs, and preserves Utah’s Western lifestyle.”

Four national parks, 10 state parks, and two towns are among Utah’s designated Dark Sky areas.

Here is the official declaration from Gov. Cox:

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“Preserving and protecting natural resources is one of the main missions of Utah State Parks. While not often considered, natural dark skies are one of those valuable resources,” says the Utah Division of Natural Resources, DNR.  

“These areas resonate with us because we want to continue to share this beauty with the public for many years,” Devan Chavez, Public Affairs Manager & Lead PIO Utah Division of Parks and Recreation tells ABC4. “Many of our parents and grandparents experienced beautiful dark and star-studded skies that aren’t as easy to find these days. Utah’s state parks is helping preserve that with our state parks, as well as our educational programs, much like we do with other heritage resources.”

Utah’s DNR lists the following changes you can make to help Utah’s Dark Sky Places stay dark. 

  • Light only where you need it
  • Shield lights and direct them downward
  • Use the minimum amount of light necessary
  • Select warmer white light bulbs

“It goes without saying that if there is too much light polluting an area, that the night sky will not stand out in its natural splendor,” Chavez shares.

Here is a list of Utah’s 23 designated Dark Sky areas.