Fox Island Lighthouse Association




The Fox Island Lighthouse Association (FILA) has proven to be an innumerable benefit to the DNR-State Parks and Recreation and for many weary sailors on Lake Michigan. This group formed due to a shared passion to save the most historically intact and most remote lighthouse complex in Lake Michigan. South Fox Island Lighthouse, circa 1867, has seven original structures within the complex. The lighthouse complex and surrounding 105 acres were transferred to the State of Michigan Parks and Recreation Division in 1971 from the U.S. Dept of Interior with the intent to provide day time recreation and a safe harbor of refuge. Based on the remote nature of the island, we have difficulty finding affordable transportation to the island to make necessary repairs.


The Fox Island Lighthouse Association initiated a partnership with Grawn State Recreation Unit, the managing facility, in 2004. They have steadily increased their membership, have held several fundraisers, and received donations to make improvements to help preserve this facility. In doing so, they have helped countless boaters find a welcoming recreation location for lunch or shelter to wait out the unexpected storms on Lake Michigan.


The Fox Island Association received the donation of a boat to help them travel to the Island and perform their volunteer services. Initially, they worked on removing vegetation that was growing from mortar and on roofs. They made repairs to structures to keep rain and other natural forces from further destroying the historical structure. The ability of the group to volunteer time, provide funding and a boat are resources we could not provide to take care of this resource. They have continued their work and have preserved the structures with routine maintenance chores such as painting, roofing, installing window covers, keeping vegetative growth trimmed, and caulking windows and doors.


In 2006, they partnered with Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum (GTLM) and Leelanau State Park. This provided them expanded opportunities to raise funds to continue preservation work at the Lighthouse complex. Grant monies were obtained to install a web-cam on the Light Tower which is linked to GTLM to provide virtual tourism to showcase the natural and cultural resources on South Fox Island. In 2008 they hosted an artistís retreat. Several local artists were provided transportation to the island to paint island scenes which increased recognition of FILAís efforts on South Fox Island. This increase in recognition has helped us regain possession of historic items that were missing from the lighthouse apartments. In 2010, they received a MLAP grant to do cultural resource and documentation of the facility.


FILA completed projects we could only envision. They have gone beyond our expectations in their efforts to preserve and secure the South Fox Lighthouse Complex and recreational lands.


We whole-heartedly nominate the Fox Island Lighthouse Association for the MRPA Community Service Award.