Digest>Archives> May 2010

Keeper's Korner

News, Tidbits & Editorial Comments from the Tower

By Timothy Harrison


Stalled Restoration Work Back On - Barely

Restoration work at California’s St. George Reef Lighthouse had been right on track for a number of years until California bureaucrats stepped in to protect a sea lion population that uses the rocks around the bottom of the lighthouse as a haven for their maturing young.

This meant that all the hard work done at the lighthouse from 1986 until 2005 was stopped, leaving projects unfinished and some of the projects that were started, are now worse off because the project was not completed. Although the government bureaucrats allowed one trip to the lighthouse in 2007, you can’t save a lighthouse out in the ocean, accessible only by helicopter, with one trip in five years.

The St. George Reef Lighthouse Preservation Society will now be allowed to only fly out to the lighthouse once a month from November to April to work on the lighthouse.

The misguided bureaucrats, such as those at the California Marine Fisheries Service Office of Protected Species, and the Humboldt Bay Wildlife Refuge, with their closed minds, have no clue that preservationists are also concerned about endangered creatures. Preservationists also believe that people can work and live side by side with these endangered creatures. It would seem to me that once a month trips to the lighthouse would be more disruptive to the seal lions than would regular trips where the sea lions would soon adapt to the frequent visits. After all, the people who are working on the lighthouse are many feet above where the sea lions stop to rest on the rocks below the lighthouse. People and animals can coexist, especially in remote areas where they have been doing so for years.

Lens Back at San Luis Obispo & Celebration

Years ago, after someone shot the historic Fresnel lens at California’s San Luis Obispo Lighthouse, it was removed to the nearby public library. However, now in getting the lighthouse ready for its 120th anniversary, the lens has been returned to the lighthouse where it has gone on display in the foghorn building. The 120th Birthday Celebration at the lighthouse will take place on June 25 & 27. For more information you can e-mail info@sanluislighthouse.org.

FLA Grants Dollars

The Florida Lighthouse Association has awarded a $10,000 grant to the St. Augustine Lighthouse. The money will be used to restore some of the walkways and porches around the keeper’s house.

Grand Haven Ownership Hits Snag

Once again, short sighted government bureaucrats have put a snag into lighthouse preservation. The federal government rejected the application of the Grand Haven Lighthouse Conservancy for ownership of the two lighthouses on the south pier in Grand Haven, Michigan. Their reason that the lighthouse group hasn’t been around long enough is, simply put, a plain stupid response in their rejection of the application. If a “friends” group that had the support of the local city government was not good enough for the federal officials, what is? In all truth, some of the other lighthouses that have been transferred in the past, were in fact, given to groups that were in their infancy. Additionally, if a lighthouse preservation group or other government agency does not get ownership of the lighthouses, then the lighthouses would go up for auction and be purchased by a private individual who may not have the dedication or future finances to keep and maintain the lighthouses and would most likely not open them to the public.

Hopefully the City of Grand Haven will now apply for ownership of the lighthouses and then lease the lighthouse back to the Grand Haven Lighthouse Conservancy. What’s amazing here, is that government seems to have no concern for the hours of work that was put into the application by volunteers, who do not get paid for their time, but do it for a love of lighthouses and the rich American history associated with them. That’s my opinion and I welcome yours.

End of an Era

Over the years I was involved in a number of very successful fund-raising events hosted on the MV Vista Jubilee for lighthouse cruises in Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay. We never had a problem selling the 350 tickets for the annual event. But it seems that the current economic conditions have hit hard and the Bay Queen Cruise Line that owned the MV Vista Jubilee and a number of other vessels is out of business. Its ships are now up for auction. Asking price for the MV Vista Jubilee is $1.5 million. Hopefully the new owner will keep the vessel in Rhode Island where the ship could be again used for lighthouses cruises.

Great Lakes Lighthouse Excursions

The Great Lakes Lighthouse Keeper’s Association is offering a number of spectacular lighthouse cruises this year. If you’ve never been on one of them, you don’t know what you are missing. Plus, proceeds go to help them in their lighthouse preservation and educational programs. Many of their excursions throughout the season are listed in our calendar. To learn more or make your reservations go to www.GLLKA.com.

The Stimulus Money Tree at Monomoy Point

In last month’s issue we wrote about the obscenely huge amount of federal stimulus money going to restore Monomoy Point Lighthouse. Now it seems that some of that money will be going to projects other than restoration. U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials want to use some of that money to build a 75 foot windmill at the lighthouse. They also want to build a windmill at the refuge’s Morris Island, (Cape Cod, MA) headquarters building. Officials are now also stating that the restoration of the Monomoy Point Lighthouse may actually cost as much as $5 million, which means they will need an additional $3.5 million in federal money to restore the lighthouse. In referring to the keeper’s house at Monomoy Point Lighthouse, Refuge Manager David Brownlie said, “We hope to utilize it more for our own staff, and in addition, we’re hoping in the very least it can be reopened to short-duration tour stops.” This basically means that other than a few limited tours, perhaps a couple of hundred people a year, the government will spend millions restoring a lighthouse station that should actually cost much less to restore, and then keep it off limits to the general public.

Harbour Town Goes Original

The Harbour Town Lighthouse in Hilton Head, South Carolina has been given a fresh coat of paint. The new coat of red bands are a crimson red, rather than the candy red or lollipop red that people are used to seeing. The new color of crimson red is not as bright, but is the original red from when the lighthouse was first constructed. The lighthouse was built in 1970 by Sea Pines Plantation as a tourist attraction and not as an aid to navigation to the mariner at sea. This led one local newspaper story to humorously suggest that since the lighthouse has helped bring so many tourist dollars into the community that the red bands should have been painted green.

Cape Meares Lighthouse Open Again

Oregon’s Cape Meares Lighthouse is again open to the public. However, the upper levels will be closed due to the fragile condition of the valuable Fresnel lens which was damaged by gunshots from criminals.

This story appeared in the May 2010 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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