Senator Tammy Baldwin and Congressman Sean Duffy Introduce Legislation to Preserve History of Iconic Ashland Harbor
Washington D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Congressman Sean Duffy (R-WI) have introduced legislation to preserve the history of the iconic Ashland harbor by transferring the Ashland Harbor Breakwater Light from the Coast Guard to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.
“Maintaining our public lands, including our National Parks, is not only important to preserving our history, but is crucial for economic development, outdoor recreation and education in our communities,” said Senator Baldwin. “The Ashland Light is a public treasure and distinctive marker of Ashland’s role in the region. I’m proud to work with Congressman Duffy to help preserve the lighthouse so that visitors can continue to experience all of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.”
"The Ashland Breakwater Light has stood proudly at the entrance of Chequamegon Bay for nearly a century. It has guided ships through dark nights and storms and welcomed weary travelers back to Lake Superior’s shores. This historic landmark continues to serve as a critical part of Ashland area tourism, recreation, and education." Rep. Duffy continued, "I thank Senator Baldwin for joining me on this issue and for her work in the Senate. Together we will maintain and preserve the Ashland Light so that future generations can continue to enjoy and learn from this important piece of history."
For years, the U.S. Coast Guard has been looking for another organization to take over management of the Ashland Breakwater Light, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The National Park Service, the only public or private entity to express interest in obtaining and maintaining the Ashland Light, is not able to accept a transfer of the property without legislation to provide a boundary adjustment.
Baldwin and Duffy’s legislation establishes that new park boundary and allows for the transfer of the lighthouse from the jurisdiction of the U.S. Coast Guard to the National Park Service, which already manages eight lighthouse towers on six of the Apostle Islands.
“The Ashland Light transfer will be a gateway to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore right here in the City of Ashland,” said Mayor Bill Whalen, City of Ashland. “It will be part of the tour that so many make as they explore the light houses in the Park. It will give the Park another opportunity to tell the story and importance of the APIS to many travelers who are passing through which may extend their stay and give them a reason to return for a longer visit.”
Baldwin sits on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee which has jurisdiction over the National Park Service. In August, Baldwin toured the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and met with National Park Service staff to discuss the impact of sequestration on the park, management of the land, historic preservation and tourism.
Background on the Ashland Light and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
- The Ashland Light was built in 1915 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.
- All of the other (six) light stations within the boundaries of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (APIS) were transferred to the NPS from the US Coast Guard (USCG) in 1986 as a result of PL 99-497. All six light stations, which include eight standing light towers, are listed on the National Register.
- The Ashland Light was not included in the 1986 transfer because it was not inside the park boundary, the USCG was actively maintaining it, and its future was not at issue at the time.
- The APIS lights, including the Ashland Light, were historically managed by the US Lighthouse Service, then the USCG, as a group. Renowned lighthouse historian F. Ross Holland, Jr. described the lights within the national lakeshore as “the largest and finest single collection of lighthouses in the country.” (Great American Lighthouses, 1994)
- In the 2011 APIS General Management Plan, the NPS identified seven significance statements for the park which describe the park’s distinctiveness and importance to the nation’s natural and cultural heritage. One of these echoed Holland: “The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore has the largest and finest collection of lighthouses in the country.”
- The exteriors of all of the historic lights within APIS are publically accessible, and many are open for public educational tours during the visitor season. The NPS provides abundant personal, printed, and electronic information on all aspects of the historic lights and their importance to the nation as part of the park’s public education / visitor enjoyment mission.
- APIS is the premier place in the National Park System for lighthouse historic preservation and education. Incorporating the Ashland Light within APIS would enhance the park’s significance because it would then include all of the nationally-significant historic lights in the region.
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