St. Marks Lighthouse transferred to refuge

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Staff report

The historic St. Marks Lighthouse was officially transferred from the U.S. Coast Guard to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, on Oct. 10.  
The property consists of approximately 8 acres of land and the 73-foot lighthouse, built in 1842, with attached lightkeeper’s quarters rebuilt in 1867.  
The long-awaited transfer of this local icon will put into motion refuge plans to celebrate the transfer in early spring 2014.
Robin Will, supervisory refuge ranger at St. Marks, said the transfer came as a surprise during the October federal furloughs.
“We came back from furlough and found it the paperwork had gone through,” she said.
The transfer from the Coast Guard to the refuge had been sought for more than a decade.
During that time, the lighthouse and keeper’s house have suffered some damage – Will said the buildings are “in pretty bad shape.”
“It didn’t take long for the rain and mildew to take hold,” Will said.
In the spring, the refuge will work in partnership with the St. Marks Refuge Association, Inc., its non-profit support group, to begin fundraising for money to stabilize the historic buildings.
The lighthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is recognized as a significant historic and cultural resource in our community, and will be maintained in compliance with guidelines set forth by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.
More details about the transfer ceremony will be forthcoming.