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In an effort to save taxpayer dollars and preserve the past, the U.S. General Services Administration is looking for stewards to care for three historic lighthouses.

They are being offered at no cost, to eligible state or local governments, nonprofit corporations, historical preservation group, or community development organizations as part of the National Lighthouse Preservation Act program.

One of the lighthouses, the Detroit River Light, has been standing since 1885. It is near the end of Bar Shoal in Lake Erie, south of the entrance to the Detroit River.

Humphrey Macdonald, who lives near Lake Erie, can see the Detroit River Light from his home in Brownstown Township.

Macdonald said he is happy to see steps being taken to preserve such treasures.

"They are a symbol of hope," he said. "They are a gateway to home, to safety."

The Detroit River Light is a 49-foot-high cast iron plate tower. It is 22 feet in diameter at the white base and 18 feet in diameter at the black top. It resembles a vessel, with the pointed end directed toward the mouth of the river to break ice flows coming downriver.

A steward may use the lighthouses for education, park, recreation, cultural or preservation purposes and must maintain them according to the secretary of the interior's standards for rehabilitation.

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The U.S. General Services Administration works with federal agencies to dispose of unneeded properties, including lighthouses, said Cat Langel, U.S. General Services spokeswoman.

Also in need of a steward is the Minneapolis Shoal Light, which marks the entrance to Little Bay De Noc in Delta County, and the North Manitou Shoal Light.

The three lighthouses occupy Great Lakes Public Trust bottomlands owned by the state of Michigan. They will also serve as active navigation aids and will remain the property of the Coast Guard, said Langel.

If no qualified applications are received, the National Lighthouse Preservation Act program authorizes the U.S. General Services Administration to sell the lighthouses through public auction.

To date, 25 lighthouses in Michigan have been transferred under the act or sold. Across the country, 114 lighthouses have been sold or transferred out of federal ownership.

For more information on the program and how to apply, visit disposal.gsa.gov.

uwatson@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2613

Become a steward

For more information on the National Lighthouse Preservation Act program and how to apply, visit disposal.gsa.gov

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