There has been a lot of misinformation recently about the Alaska Lighthouse Association and the Point Retreat lighthouse, and I thought that your recent article helped to put the issues in perspective. However, I think it is important to clear the air on some of the issues about our group and what is going on at Point Retreat. I am a volunteer with the association, have stayed out at Point Retreat during the winter, and have been involved since the beginning.
The Alaska Lighthouse Association is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization with about 100 members. The association is dedicated to preserving the Point Retreat Lighthouse Reserve and enhancing public education about Alaska's rich maritime history and heritage.
Point Retreat has been under lease to our association since 1997. After going through a highly competitive selection process, a multi-member Coast Guard committee decided the Alaska Lighthouse Association was the best organization to take care of the lighthouse buildings and the lighthouse reserve. There was no "mistake" in leasing the entire historic lighthouse reserve to our association. The 1,500-acre reserve was established in 1901 by President McKinley, and was never part of the Tongass National Forest. The intent was to retain the integrity of the lightstation complex, including the 1,500 acre reserve.
Under the terms of the conveyance, the property must be used as a nonprofit maritime historical center; otherwise it reverts to the Coast Guard. Despite allegations made by organizations such as the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, the Alaska Lighthouse Association cannot sell the property or subdivide it. We cannot log it or mine it or build a hotel on it. And, despite allegations to the contrary, we don't want to deny access to the public including recreational users or subsistence and sport hunters.
I am proud of the work that the association has done out at Point Retreat. We have spent thousands of hours working to restore and rehabilitate the lighthouse and surrounding buildings. It has always been our belief that Point Retreat and the surrounding area remain available to the public and maintained so that future generations can enjoy them.