Crane Lake Township

Current Topics

Dark Sky Report

Council Members,


Thank you for your continued interest and support of Dark Sky initiatives in Crane Lake. I am unable to make the May meeting but am happy to schedule time outside of the official meeting if so desired. I have been in contact with Mary McKie as well as several other Crane Lakers interested in the committee. There is much enthusiasm that should be realized once many of the summer residents return.


Before continuing this update, I am going to re-state and slightly paraphrase the 5 guidelines DarkSky International uses to evaluate light.

1               –                Useful. All Light should have a purpose.

2               –                Targeted. Use shielding and carefully aim light so that it does not spill beyond where it is needed.

3               –                Low Level. Do not use more light than is necessary.

4               –                Controlled. Use of dimers, timers, and motion sensors so that light is only used when needed.

5               –                Warm-colored. Blue is bad. Longer wavelengths (red/orange) are better for the night sky in all respects.


Print and Web ready documents are available via the following link:


NOTE: Red light (< 1000K) has the least effect on wildlife behavior and human night vision. This is particularly beneficial when star gazing and watching Auroras as exposure to even low levels of blue light take at least 20 minutes to counteract and restore a person’s night vision. Lights in this wavelength do take some getting used to but once you do, they are wonderful additions to a property.


The three points we discussed at the previous council meeting are:

1               –                Recommendations for Crane Lake Street Lights

2               –                Assistance with community outreach and education

3               –                Materials and programs for new visitor center


I have been in Contact with Todd Burlet who is the President of Starry Skies North which is the Minnesota chapter of DarkSky International. Todd is a wealth of knowledge and active in Minnesota. He will be someone Crane Lake can certainly count on for many things including future classes, programs, and excursions. He is very excited by the council’s openness to Dark Sky issues. Todd has put me in contact with Scott Lind who specializes in exterior lighting and has become one of the regional experts on Dark Sky exterior lighting for municipalities and businesses. I am working through the vast materials he has compiled and hope to have specific recommendations and demonstration units of potential streetlights for the council to inspect. The new units will likely be warmer color temperatures with motions sensors and shields to direct the light down. I have spent several evenings driving up and down the Gold Coast and see this as a potentially huge quality of life enhancement to the residents and visitors alike. However, it has also become clear that as much as this will help, the number of personal and business “security” lights will minimize the benefit to installing them.


This brings me to our next point of community outreach. Through effective marketing and outdated preconceptions, most people assume that big bright lights make them more secure. Research has shown that the opposite is true and that bright lights at night foster a better environment for crime and criminals while blinding the victims to their activities. This is especially true with respect to the elderly who are more sensitive to blue light scattering in their eyes. The same is true for navigation at night whether by land or water. Bright lights obscure our vision while ruining our night vision at the same time making water navigation significantly more treacherous in the presence of bright exterior lights. These factors coupled with use and enjoyment, health, and environmental impacts should help with the Council’s efforts to reach out to the business and residential community to dispel many of these misunderstandings. Dark Sky International has created many documents to aid in these efforts and I have inquired as to the most appropriate for Crane Lake.  It would be a wonderful thing for the council to consider a program to make the replacement of these existing security lights in the private sector a more affordable, community friendly process for people in the community. It will ensure the most effective implementation of the town’s efforts if the community is implementing the same practices.


Thank you for your time. Feel free to reach out to me at any time and I look forward to speaking soon.


Best regards

Peter J Coggan