Lighthouses are a fascinating part of Michigan history, but many of them are sadly falling into disrepair. The U.S. Coast Guard is now acting to preserve 17 Great Lakes lighthouses in accordance with a Mackinac Center for Public Policy recommendation to allow their sale to private parties.

Many of the beacons are in danger of being lost forever because Coast Guard funds prohibit expensive preservation efforts. Lighthouse Digest Editor Tim Harrison said many of them have been "abandoned by the authorities and are falling victim to vandalism and the elements."

Last July’s Mackinac Center recommendation pointed out that private property owners have built-in incentives to preserve and care for what they own. Government is often unable for budget or political reasons to protect historic structures. The law that prohibited sale of lighthouses to private individuals actually impeded their preservation.

Eight Michigan lighthouses have begun the transition from government to possible private ownership. This is a victory for lighthouse enthusiasts, historic preservationists, and citizens concerned about good government stewardship and sound policy.