Letter: License plates helping make Admiralty lighthouse a big draw

Editor,

There are over 3,500 people cruising around our state with a Lighthouse License Plate displayed on their vehicle. Over 500 are here in Island County.

One of these cars may be parked in your driveway. If so, I am writing to express deep gratitude to you for the cumulative good you have brought to our island and state over the years.

You see, only the Lighthouse Plate and Meerkirk Plate bring home most of their bounty to benefit us directly on Whidbey and Camano islands.

Now, don’t get me wrong, 25 percent of lighthouse plate income goes to fund projects requested by open lighthouses across the state. As an example, consider Grays Harbor Lighthouse.

You have given $32,280 over the years for the restoration and interpretation projects for this lighthouse alone. In total this year, over $300,000 will have been distributed to Washington lighthouses.

Here on Whidbey Island, your lighthouse plate grants have substantially helped raise Sound Water Stewards into the environmental powerhouse they are today.

Other monies have gone to Waste Wise, a WSU program. Waste Wise has the most intrepid volunteers who sort through garbage at our large events, seeking to reduce our landfill waste. They visit our schools to encourage children to lead the way to sustainability.

Speaking of schools, your ongoing license support let Whidbey Watershed Stewards add an additional grade level to the spectacular oceanography series of classes they teach in our South Whidbey schools.

Finally, your Lighthouse License Plate has made our beloved Admiralty Head Lighthouse the most popular lighthouse in Washington. Each year 50,000 visitors from all over the world climb the tower stairs and see what original lighthouse keepers saw. Quite a change from the locked and dark building of 30 years ago.

That’s when Don Meehan, then a WSU director, looked at the building and thought it would be a win-win if he could use the upstairs rooms to house his environmental education programs. In turn, he envisioned that the closed lighthouse, owned by Washington State Parks, could be kept open by volunteers. Gloria Whalin originated the idea of a Lighthouse License Plate to provide funding. The rest is history.

You, who proudly display a Lighthouse Plate on your vehicle, are the good people shining a light on our environment and our historic lighthouses.

We could not do what we do without your ongoing support. Thank you.

Ellen Dickey

Lighthouse Environmental Programs Board of Directors

Langley

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