But the movement’s watershed moment came during the coronavirus pandemic. As more people started to work from home, many started to stargaze from their own backyards. For those buying second homes, access to dark skies became a more important draw. This, in turn, led golf community developers to embrace dark skies as a marketing opportunity. A bonus: It also makes residences cheaper to maintain.
“As a result of Covid-19, we’re seeing increased interest in folks moving to remote areas,” said Daniel Wright, the assistant manager of Springs RV Resort and Golf Course in Borrego Springs, who has been working to preserve dark skies there for 20 years. “Their primary motivation may be getting out of cities and crowded suburbs, but as they spend more time in our area, we believe they will gain an appreciation for protecting dark skies.”
While the dark-sky movement started in the United States, it has picked up real steam internationally in the last decade. Mexico may not yet have an official dark-sky park, but the private sector is forging ahead with residential golf communities like Costa Palmas on Baja’s East Cape, home to residential golf communities like Four Seasons Residences Los Cabos and Amanvari Residences, where all “up lighting” is prohibited and only low-voltage lighting with a maximum of 25 watts may be used for all exterior site lighting applications.
“We have the opportunity and responsibility to develop Costa Palmas with a thoughtful approach to its natural setting and for us, that includes the spectacular night sky,” said Michael Radovan, managing director of Costa Palmas.
Initially, Europe had been slow to embrace the dark-sky movement, but is starting to make up for lost time. Dark-sky parks there started in Britain and spread to the Continent. Today, Britain leads the tally with 14 official I.D.A. sites; Germany has five, and France has four. Coincidentally, these are Europe’s three biggest golf markets.
What’s more, in 2019, France adopted the most progressive light pollution policies in the world — imposing lighting curfews, limits in emission, significantly reduced glare and the strictest emissions of blue light, not to mention an outright ban on lasers, skybeams, lit waterways and other light “trespasses.” This has been especially welcome in places like Normandy’s Alabaster Coast, home to 40 golf courses that are part of an emerald necklace preserving the region’s cultural and natural landscapes.