ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — With Earth Day quickly approaching this Saturday, green and nature-related initiatives are being featured across New York. One of them is the “Lights Out” program, which as the name implies encourages you to turn your lights off.
The national program is run by the Audobon Society, in recent years they’ve been expanding the program by partnering with state agencies and people like Laura DiBetta of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.
“The Light’s Out initiative is an effort to reduce sources of light pollution that can disrupt and disorient birds during migration,” said DiBetta.
When the birds become disoriented, or even distracted by the lights they can collide with buildings or other obstructions, and estimates of the number of collisions from the US Agriculture Department are staggering.
“Collisions in the United States can kill upwards of close to 1 billion birds annually,” said DiBetta.
As a whole state-owned and managed buildings, such as the State Supreme Court building at East Avenue and Chestnut, are taking part in dimming or turning off unnecessary lighting both indoors and outdoors during peak migration times.
“From mid-April which is right now through the end of May and then again in the Fall from mid-August through mid-November and really we’re looking at the overnight period because that’s when birds are typically in flight,” said DiBetta.
It’s easy to get involved at home too, simply turning off your lights before bed or closing your blinds when they are on can make a big difference in limiting the risk of collisions.
“Homeowners can absolutely participate as well. We can all make sure that we don’t have excessive lights outdoors whatever lighting we have we either turn it off at night or dim it to make sure that it’s facing downward,” said DiBetta.
Now this program goes much further than just supporting birds’ migratory patterns. It’s also a massive boon for sustainability and government buildings across the state.
“When we turn off our lights at night we’re also saving energy we’re helping to meet sustainability goals and we’re saving money as well,” said DiBetta.
In addition, the program can also help to reduce light pollution and not only allow the birds to see the night sky clearer but all of us too.
“It’s truly amazing what you can observe at night The light pollution also affects us and our ability to observe and experience the night sky,” said DiBetta.