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Michigan's old lighthouses get some help

NEWS RELEASE MICHIGAN SENATORS CARL LEVIN AND DEBBIE STABENOW ************************* Levin, Stabenow introduce legislation to help preserve Michigan lighthouses WASHINGTON - Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) today introduced le
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NEWS RELEASE

MICHIGAN SENATORS CARL LEVIN AND DEBBIE STABENOW

************************* Levin, Stabenow introduce legislation to help preserve Michigan lighthouses

WASHINGTON - Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) today introduced legislation to create a competitive grant program that will help to pay for the preservation and rehabilitation of historic lighthouses in Michigan and across the country.

The grants will help nonprofit organizations, which serve as caretakers for the historic landmarks [shown is the Point Iroquois Light Station 32 km west of the Michigan Soo], to maintain the beauty of the lighthouses and keep them accessible to the public.

“Michigan’s lighthouses beautify our shorelines and are central to our state’s rich maritime history,” Levin said. “As the federal government has been divesting ownership of these American castles, local communities and historical societies have struggled to maintain these magnificent structures. This funding would help ensure our lighthouses remain cultural beacons for generations to come.”

“Michigan is home to over 120 lighthouses that draw thousands of visitors to Michigan each year and create jobs throughout our state,” Stabenow said. “I am pleased to join my colleague Senator Levin in support of this bill, which will help communities preserve these national treasures for years to come.”

In October 2000, Levin authored the National Lighthouse Preservation Act with Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-AK), which helped facilitate the process of transferring historic lighthouses from the government to non-profit historical organizations.

The bill established an expedited process through the Government Services Agency to help ease lighthouse transfers by helping to cut through the bureaucratic red tape.

As a result of the law, 45 lighthouses to date - and nine in Michigan - have been transferred to custodians who will preserve them and keep them accessible to the public.

After obtaining custody of the lighthouses, however, some of the nonprofits organizations have struggled to come up with funding to adequately restore and maintain the lighthouses.

To address this problem, this legislation establishes a pilot program, run by the Secretary of the Interior, that would enable state and nonprofit groups to apply for competitive grants to help with restoration and maintenance efforts.

This pilot program would authorize the secretary to distribute $20 million a year for three years.

The legislation directs that funds would be distributed to states based on the percentage of historic lighthouses in the state.

Michigan has more lighthouses than any state in the country.

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