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Proposed law aimed at saving Michigan lighthouses



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

WASHINGTON - Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) today introduced the National Lighthouse Stewardship Act to create a three-year competitive grant program that would help fund 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, to maintain the beauty of the lighthouses and keep them accessible to the public.

Michigan has the most lighthouses of any state in the country [shown is the Point Iroquois Light Station 32 km west of the Michigan Soo].

“Michigan’s coastline is blessed with more than 120 historic lighthouses, which have served us well for many years and now act as historic markers for future generations,” Levin said. “Many of these lighthouses are in need of significant repair and rehabilitation, however, and this legislation would begin a grant program to help their non-profit custodians perform that important work and restore these majestic structures.”

“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, which 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 National Lighthouse Stewardship Act is supported by the American Lighthouse Coordinating Committee and the Michigan Lighthouse Alliance.

Additional cosponsors include Senators Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).