BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Tourists heading to central Idaho will be in the dark if local officials get their way.

The first International Dark Sky Reserve in the United States would fill a chunk of the state's sparsely populated region that contains night skies so pristine that interstellar dust clouds are visible in the Milky Way.

The International Dark-Sky Association says the region is one of the few places remaining in the contiguous United States large enough and dark enough to attain reserve status.

Nearby towns, county and federal officials and a conservation group are working to apply this fall to designate 1,400 square miles (3,600 square kilometers) as a reserve, but they'll have to limit light pollution.

Researchers say 80 percent of North Americans live in areas where light pollution blots out the night sky.

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