July 29: Letters to the editor

Dear Editor,

We are grateful to each and every person who supported Serious Starlight — Big Bend Conservation Alliance’s fundraiser supporting the Big Bend International Dark Sky Reserve. The reserve, once designated, will be greater in size than the other 18 Dark Sky Reserves in the world combined, helping protect major wildlife habitats and migration corridors in the Big Bend region of Far West Texas and Northern Mexico.

Serious Starlight raised over $52,000, showing community support for the designation and giving Big Bend Conservation Alliance the funds to reduce light pollution in the Big Bend by shielding lights. Both of these things are critical steps forward in supporting the application process for the Big Bend International Dark Sky Reserve when the McDonald Observatory makes their application to the International Dark Sky Association come this October.

Successful fundraisers are team efforts. We are deeply grateful to many for helping this project along its way.

Julie Speed had a vision that would capture the public’s imagination with a work of art that would embrace the feeling one gets when looking at the awe-inspiring night sky. The name of our fundraiser, “Serious Starlight,” came from Julie’s good humor and sense of wonder — her passion for dark skies was everywhere during this campaign.

Liz Lambert and the team at Far West Collective, El Cosmico Provision Co., and El Cosmico — Sarah Kirk, Alex Creswell, Kendall Radkins, Monika Bernstein, Michelle Lawhorn, Susannah Haddad — who partnered on Serious Starlight to get Julie Speed’s poster into the hands of our donors and bring awareness of the night sky to their many guests who experience it during their stays.

We are indebted to the team at the McDonald Observatory — Bill Wren, Stephen Hummel, Katie Kizziar — for supporting this project with their knowledge and expertise. They do incredible work every day and BBCA is honored to be their cheerleader.

Judd Foundation — Rainer Judd and Caitlin Murray — for hosting their annual Star Party during Serious Starlight, helping bring awareness and new audiences to the reserve. Mary Lou Saxon for printing countless numbers of posters with exceptional quality. Marfa Public Radio and KMKB for public service announcements that ran through the campaign as well as Big Bend Sentinel for helping us with advertising in print and online. Big Bend Coffee Roasters for Dark Skies Blend to give away. JD DiFabbio, Lisa Kettyle and Susan Kirr for advice and support.

We are grateful for the corporate philanthropy and foundation support this campaign received — Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Big Bend Telephone, Chisos Boots, Explore Ranches, Permian Basin Area Foundation and Permian Basin Petroleum Association. In addition to some shooting star donors — Edy & Steve Elfring, Douglas Friedman, Rainer Judd, Stephen Pauley, Walter Penn, Rod and Nancy Sanders, Lori Seekatz, and those anonymous — who gave, above and beyond, to help us in supporting this work.

Most of all, it was everyone who made a difference. During the course of this effort you cheered us on, got the attention of the International Dark Sky Association and gave BBCA the opportunity to reduce light pollution. You sent a message — the dark skies of Far West Texas are an important and valued asset.

Thank you all for believing in the Big Bend International Dark Sky Reserve and giving us the path ahead.

Shelley Bernstein

Executive Director

Big Bend Conservation Alliance


Dear Editor,

For those of you who may not be aware, Cuba is an island country run by a dictatorial communist regime. This regime has in the past been openly admired by members of the U.S. Democrat Party. One can only wonder what it is they support. Do they agree with the shortages of food, medicine, gasoline, electricity and human rights? What about the Cuban regime’s corruption, low wages, re-education camps, torture and firing squads?

The Cuban people have recently held open protests against their tyrannical government, with the expected oppressive response from the Cuban regime. The U.S. Democrat regime is now claiming feeble sanctions against the Cuban regime. Joe Biden’s dubious response to this is, “I unequivocally condemn the mass detentions and sham trials that are unjustly sentencing those to prison who dared to speak out.” Why doesn’t he say the same about the hundreds of 2020 election protestors arrested in the U.S. and the many who were unjustly imprisoned after January 6, 2021? All of this is once again the U.S. Democrat regime’s shameless hypocrisy on full display for all the world to see.

James R. Le Blanc

Fort Davis