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Historic Lake Superior Lighthouse Furthers Climate Research

Located on a shallow, rocky shoal in Lake Superior over 40 miles due north of Marquette, Michigan, the Stannard Rock Lighthouse is considered the most remote lighthouse in North America; located further from shore than any other lighthouse on the Great Lakes, the East Coast or the West Coast. The federal government recently transferred ownership of the historic Stannard Rock Lighthouse to the Superior Watershed Partnership. The SWP plans to expand Great Lakes climate research at the lighthouse and involve the Great Lakes Conservation Corps in historic renovation projects.

Recently retired Senator Carl Levin (D; Michigan) was pleased to see the transfer take place. “I worked to pass the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act in 2000 to allow for just this sort of transfer, which will preserve a historic treasure and give the community a new tool to promote tourism and encourage respect for the natural wonder and maritime history of our Great Lakes,” said former Senator Carl Levin.

Great Lakes author and historian, Fred Stonehouse, considers the Stannard Rock Lighthouse unique among the hundreds of maritime structures on the Great Lakes. “Stannard Rock Light was one of the top ten engineering marvels in the country when it was completed in 1882 and the most difficult ever built in the United States. Keepers called it, “the loneliest place in America” because of its remote location.”

The Superior Watershed Partnership is a regional leader in addressing climate change and assisting communities with coastal resiliency projects. The SWP has also developed regional climate adaptation plans and assisted in forming a regional Climate Adaptation Task Force. The SWP collaborates with US and Canadian Universities, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other partners on Great Lakes climate research using the Stannard Rock Lighthouse. Research capabilities were expanded recently when several new Great Lakes monitoring buoys were deployed in cooperation with Northern Michigan University. “Stannard Rock is a critical research site within the Great Lakes Evaporation Network,” said John Lenters, a climatologist with LimnoTech. “Data from the lighthouses and buoys are improving our observations of over-lake meteorology and evaporation, which is important for predicting Great Lakes water levels.”

The SWP has established a fundraising program to help support historic renovation and preservation projects at the Lighthouse. Individuals, businesses, architectural firms, construction companies and charter boat companies are invited to get involved with this important historic renovation project. Young adults, ages 18-25, will be employed through the SWP Great Lakes Conservation Corps (GLCC) to assist with special renovation projects at the lighthouse. For more information about supporting climate research or historic renovations at the Stannard Rock Lighthouse please contact the Superior Watershed Partnership at 906-228-6095 or

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