LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Away from the bright lights of the Strip or the casinos in Reno, in rural Nevada you will find some of the darkest skies in the country, areas with the least amount of light pollution which are ideal for stargazing.
When Lieutenant Governor Kate Marshall looks into the stars in the dark skies, Marshall sees economic opportunity and is now trying to get others to see it as well.
“One of my favorite places in the world is Great Basin National Park. It is the only National Park located entirely in Nevada... It has an International Dark Sky designation,” Marshall said.
Marshall hopes to create more dark sky havens across the state and capitalize on a natural Nevada asset to bring more visitors to the state.
“We estimate that outdoor recreation in 2019 was about 3.2 percent of NV’s GDP and so we expect with a bill like this for that really to grow,” Marshall contended.
Marshall’s bill, Senate Bill 52, would allow communities from small ranches to entire cities to apply for a dark sky designation from the state. The dark sky designations could be used promote tourism in rural communities. People would come for what is in the sky but spend money at places on the ground.
“There is no question that the dark skies has been a plus for the town of Pahrump and the western side of Nye County,” Jack Sanders contended. At the Sanders Family Winery, they already offer star gazing and wine tasting.
“Sometimes we will shut the lights off and just let the people gaze into the stars and see what is going on up there and it is so beautiful,” Sanders said.
Sanders believes a special designation as a dark sky haven from the state would help attract even more tourists.
“I've been in the wine business since 1988 and it has always been amazing to me the little things that you never expect that draws visitors into our community and this has always been one of them,” Sanders asserted.
Critics of the bill say it doesn't go far enough as a dark sky designation wouldn't stop development.
Nevada’s Senate passed the bill unanimously it now goes to the Assembly and if passed, to the Governor Sisolak’s desk.