Digest>Archives> October 2007

Wickie’s Wisdom

The Money Trail

By Timothy Harrison

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The U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service recently added Jordan's Delight Island an outcropping of about 30 acres located in Maine's Narraguagus Bay, off the coast of Milbridge, to its list of ever expanding ownership of properties along the coast of Maine as part of the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge acquisition program.

According to various reports, back in the 90's and much to the chagrin of the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, which was trying to acquire it, a private individual purchased the island. The private owner then proceeded to built an elaborate 3,000 square foot, or more, what looked to me like a mansion, of sorts, on the on the island. However, for some reason or another, he never finished the interior of the house, and instead put the island up for sale for cool $1.6 million.

Again, Maine Coast Heritage Trust wanted to purchase the island but had problems raising the money, however they won out when the island was purchased by someone from Massachusetts who then proceeded to donate 27 of the island's 30 acres to them.

The Maine Coast Heritage Trust then reportedly proceeded to spend somewhere around $70,000 to tear the house down so the island could be restored to its natural habitat. Apparently the birds couldn't live with an abandoned house on the island as they do with many other abandoned homes on other islands or the abandoned keeper's house at Staitsmouth Lighthouse in Massachusetts, which is a story of disgrace to the maritime history of our nation, but one we have written about before. (If you're not familiar with that story look it up on our web site at www.LighthouseDigest.com.)

Anyway, to conclude the story, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, for a fee of $70,000, (to reportedly cover their cost of tearing the house down) sold the island to the federal government, which can now do the good deed of protecting the natural habit for the nesting birds.

Now, don't get me wrong, I have only the highest respect for groups such as Maine Coast Heritage Trust and what they do. So, please don't send me any letters about that.

What I have a problem with is the millions of dollars donated by many wealthy people to protect nesting and migrating birds, while, for the most part, these same people do not give in substantial amounts, if any at all, to helping lighthouse groups save our historic lighthouses, which are among our nation’s oldest standing historical structures. Nor do these same people, for the most part, give to these lighthouse groups to also help save and record our lighthouse history or manage the affairs of lighthouse groups.

On the other hand, maybe it's our own fault for not doing a better job of educating these people of the importance to also help these lighthouse projects that really need some serious assistance.

Yes, it's true that it's their money to do with as they please, but shame on them for not stepping forward for lighthouse preservation. Lighthouse preservationists are also concerned about protecting our environment and its wildlife, as is evident by what they have done at many lighthouse restoration projects around the county. The difference is, in my opinion, that lighthouse people are not as one-sided in their beliefs as are those on the other side of the fence.

This story appeared in the October 2007 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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