Michigan's Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke in St. Joseph in Lion's Park on the shore of Lake Michigan to a group interested in the preservation of lighthouses and maritime heritage. The city of St. Joseph is in the process of working to gain ownership of the north pier lights since they were declared surplus in 2002. It has been actively engaged in the preservation of the north pier lights since 1987 when the catwalk was acquired to prevent it from being torn down.
St. Joseph Mayor Mary Goff welcomed those in attendance and introduced the Senator.
Senator Stabenow, currently on a statewide tour of Michigan lighthouses, outlined her Michigan Lighthouse and Maritime Heritage Act (S 1850). The bill has strong bipartisan support from all of Michigan's members of Congress. The Senator invited representative David Camp to join her in her efforts and on March 11, 2004, he introduced an identical “companion” bill in the U. S. House of Representatives with a bipartisan group of co-sponsors.
“I don't know how anybody can be from Michigan and not be
passionate about the Great Lakes,” said Stabenow, who grew up
in Clare. In her speech, Senator Stabenow noted that there are many obstacles that make the preservation of Michigan lighthouses challenging. Her legislation addresses issues facing lighthouse preservation and restoration by requiring the National Park Service to work with the State of Michigan and local communities to study and make
recommendations to Congress on the best ways to promote and
protect Michigan's lighthouses and maritime resources. Her present legislation is a continuation of her efforts to preserve and protect the Great Lakes. In 2001, Michigan's former Governor John Engler announced plans to begin oil and gas drilling under the Great Lakes despite the environmental risks and strong public opposition to those plans. With the bipartisan support of her Great Lakes colleagues, Senator Stabenow authored and championed a ban on Great Lakes drilling that was signed into law by President Bush on November 12, 2001, and extended last year through September 30, 2005. Senator Stabenow is continuing her efforts to make the Great Lakes drilling ban permanent.
Following Senator Stabenow's speech, Mr. Kenneth Pott, executive director of the Fort Miami Heritage Society spoke briefly on the history of lighthouses that have served the ports of St. Joseph and Benton harbor over the years since the first lighthouse was built in 1832 on the bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan. That lighthouse, along with one built in Chicago the same year, were the first two lighthouses built on Lake Michigan.
Following the proceedings, Senator Stabenow, who had lamented that she misses the vistas of the Great Lakes when she is working in her Washington, D.C. office, was presented with a matted print titled, “Defiant” showing a billowing cloud of spray dwarfing the St Joseph north pier outer light photographed by Gary Martin in May, 2003.
This story appeared in the
October 2004 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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