GROVELAND, FL, USA (June 21, 2023) – DarkSky International announced that the City of Groveland, Florida, Is certified as a Dark Sky Community, making it the first city in Florida and the first in the Southeastern United States to receive the honor. This coveted certification further establishes Groveland as a city living up to its reputation as a “City with Natural Charm” by committing to standards that will help protect the environment.
Groveland is one of Florida’s fastest-growing cities. Located about 30 miles west of Orlando, Groveland is a diverse, historic community of about 23,000 people. The economy is driven by a strong agricultural foundation and a robust industrial park with national companies such as Kroger and Amazon. City leaders worked with community partners to create a strategic plan emphasizing a sophisticated approach to incorporating natural elements into the city’s plans. Achieving the International Dark Sky Community certification was a major objective of this initiative.
“With approximately 23,000 residents, Groveland will be one of the largest certified International Dark Sky Communities. Proximity to Orlando and vast conservation areas offer potential for diverse partnerships centered around conservation and community planning. This is an exciting opportunity to raise awareness through responsible outdoor lighting practices and public education,” stated Amber Harrison, the Dark Sky Places Program Associate.
To earn this certification, Groveland engaged with residents, business owners, and community stakeholders to raise awareness about the benefits of protecting the night sky. This educational outreach included holding virtual workshops, tabling at events, developing a citizen-scientist program to monitor light pollution, and hosting the city’s first Star Party attended by over 700 guests. City staff conducted an inventory of all city-owned lighting, and the City Council adopted a comprehensive dark-sky lighting ordinance. The ordinance provides standards for all exterior lighting and streetlights in Groveland and requires that all city-owned lights be retrofitted with dark-sky-friendly fixtures by 2027.
Groveland Mayor Evelyn Wilson noted that the city “sits on the edge of darkness,” with acres of conservation land within its boundaries and to the west contrasted by city and theme park lights to the east.
“We believe that this certification will help Groveland in its efforts to encourage other communities across Central Florida to preserve the nighttime environment and to understand the importance of mitigating light pollution,” Wilson said.
Other Central Floridians have already taken note, such as Orlando Photographer and International Dark-Sky Association member Steven Miller.
“I’m so incredibly impressed with the passion and dedication that the City of Groveland has shown in preserving the environment,” Miller said. “I’m excited to see how this certification spreads further awareness.”
This summer, signage will be installed throughout the city to celebrate this important achievement. Signs will feature the new DarkSky branding to inform visitors that Groveland is a Dark Sky Community. A plan is being developed, and funds are budgeted, to retrofit city-owned lighting. Groveland also is working with local retailer, Toole’s Ace Hardware, to carry dark-sky compliant fixtures for residents. The city continues to work with developers to ensure new neighborhoods meet dark-sky standards.
Visit www.groveland-fl.gov to learn more about the city of Groveland, Florida.
About the International Dark Sky Places Program:
The International Dark Sky Places Program was founded in 2001 as a non-regulatory and voluntary program to encourage communities, parks, and protected areas worldwide to preserve and protect dark sites through effective lighting policies, environmentally responsible outdoor lighting, and public education. When used indiscriminately, artificial light can disrupt ecosystems, impact human health, waste money and energy, contribute to climate change, and block our view and connection to the universe. Groveland now joins more than 200 Places that have demonstrated robust community support for dark sky advocacy and strive to protect the night from light pollution. Learn more by visiting www.darksky.org/conservation/idsp.
About DarkSky International:
The mission of DarkSky International is to preserve and protect the nighttime environment and our heritage of dark skies through environmentally responsible outdoor lighting. Learn more at darksky.org
Dark Sky Places Program Associate, DarkSky International
Andrew Landis, Division Manager
Conservation & Strategic Initiatives