Mid-Columbia Economic Development District (MCEDD) is pleased to be the recipient of a 2017 Innovation Award from the National Association of Development Organizations for the Gorge Night Sky project. The Innovation Awards program honors creative approaches to advancing regional community and economic development and improved quality of life.
The Gorge Night Sky Project was a collaborative effort between MCEDD, Friends of the Goldendale Observatory, and the Goldendale Chamber of Commerce. Additional partners included North Wasco County School District, Klickitat PUD, Northern Wasco County PUD, private businesses and many more. MCEDD extends their sincere appreciation to Jonathan Lewis, Hire Electric, for his countless volunteer hours. On learning about the award, Jonathan stated that: “Working on a project that spanned state lines and brought together kids and astronomers; Google and lighting experts; utilities, biologists, wineries, state parks, city councils and highway departments was tremendously rewarding.” Additional in-kind support came from City of Mosier, Dark Skies Northwest Chapter, Gorge Owned!, Two Mountain Marketing, Gorge Technology Alliance, Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, International Dark-Sky Association, Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, and Klindt’s Booksellers.
The Gorge Night Sky project highlighted an opportunity, with the emergence of LED technology, to both preserve our rural dark sky and increase energy efficiency by delivering a multi-faceted educational program to end users, lighting vendors/retailers, installers, and K-12 students in the region. “The amount of light in the night sky will continue to increase without changes in practice. Supporting projects such as the Gorge Night Sky helps improve community understanding of issues and defines a variety of solutions that are feasible and that will decrease our impact in the future,” said Jacque Schei, MCEDD Project Manager. The project promoted preservation of the Columbia River Gorge’s rural dark sky by supporting education about International Dark-Sky standards and recommendations for energy efficient LED lighting. Accomplishments included development of an educational unit for local schools and organization of a two-day educational symposium to allow interested parties to discuss issues and possible solutions on local and regional scales.
You can learn more about the project on the Special Project sections of the MCEDD website (www.mcedd.org). MCEDD is a public-private economic development organization serving Klickitat, Skamania, Hood River, Sherman and Wasco counties. MCEDD provides business assistance, industry development and regional economic development planning for the bi-state region.