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Letter: We ought to expand Lights Out Initiative

We ought to expand Lights Out Initiative

This letter contains questions for all the governmental entities in Western New York. In April 2015, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Audubon Society jointly announced the New York State Lights Out Initiative to reduce sources of light pollution that disorient birds during migration. The initiative requests state-owned/managed tall buildings to turn off non-essential outdoor lighting from 11 p.m. to dawn during peak bird migrations. These peaks are April 15 to May 31 and Aug. 15 to Nov. 15. We strongly suggest that this initiative be extended beyond state buildings to all tall buildings in the area.

Western New York is an important flyway for many species of birds to rest and feed here during migration. The Outer Harbor, Niagara River and Lake Ontario are all necessary for the birds to continue to migrate, both in spring and fall.

Many birds rely on constellations to navigate and too much light can cause them to become disoriented. This is called “fatal light attraction” and the U.S. Agriculture Department estimates more than 500 million birds annually die from crashing into windows, floodlights and walls.

So, here are the questions: Are all the municipalities along these waterways aware and eagerly engaged with this initiative? We hope so! Are they turning off the lights on the grain elevators by 11 p.m. at Canalside during migration seasons? Are other very tall buildings cooperating with this effort? Perhaps tall construction on the Outer Harbor would not be such a good idea after all.

Evelyn Malone

Green Sanctuary Committee, Unitarian Universalist Church of Amherst

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