HARSENS ISLAND, MI-The state has kicked in $450,000 in grant money to help renovate two Lake St. Clair lighthouses. The lighthouses, known as the South Channel Lights, date from before the Civil War.

“That’s too much history to let crumble into the water,” said Chuck Brockman, founder of the volunteer group Save Our South Channel Lights. “Those lights helped open up this whole area to commerce and settlement.”

SOSCL has been working on the project since 1989.

The South Channel Lights were among nine lighthouses that shared $1.2 million worth of grants from the Clean Michigan Initiative, an environmental bond issue approved by Michigan voters in 1998.

Calling the state’s lighthouses a “treasured resource,” Gov. Jennifer Granholm said the grant money was designed to boost recreation and tourism and to preserve history.

The state grant will pave the way for a two-year renovation project to restore the lighthouses to their original form, Brockman said. The project is set to begin next spring. Once the restoration is completed, the group plans to open the two towers to tours by boaters.

The group already has invested $100,000 in the lights, fortifying the foundation and building a seawall around the forward tower. They now want to build a seawall around the rear tower.

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