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New license plate benefits lighthouses
and environmental education programs

Many Washington drivers have begun showing off a striking new vehicle license plate celebrating our state's picturesque lighthouses. Over the last decade these motorists have helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for lighthouse restoration and interpretive projects in Western Washington and for environmental education programs protecting Puget Sound.

The "Washington Lighthouses" special license plate is offered by the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL) as an alternative to the state's regular vehicle plate. It is issued to those who ask for it and voluntarily pay an additional fee of $28 which is tax-deductible as a charitable contribution on both the original purchase and renewals. The remainder of the fee, $2.00, is dedicated to the DOL's costs for administering the program.

The Washington Lighthouses special plate is helping raise needed funds to keep many of our state's lighthouses open to the public. It supports education, restoration and environmental projects at Admiralty Head Lighthouse on Whidbey Island - where the project originated - with 25 percent to be set aside in a grant fund for similar work at other state lighthouses open to the public.

Lighthouses eligible to benefit from the plate's sale are those kept open to the public by non-profit, 501(c)(3) volunteer groups. This includes Admiralty Head, Browns Point, Burrows Island (NW Schooner), Grays Harbor, Lime Kiln, Mukilteo, New Dungeness, Patos Island, Point No Point, Swiftsure Lightship, and Turn Point Lighthouses.

Most of the proceeds from the additional funds go to environmental education programs including Beach Watchers (now called Sound Water Stewards) and Waste Wise Volunteers headquartered on Whidbey Island.

Governor Signing Legislation

Governor Chistine Gregoire with Senator Haugen and staff,
Gloria Whalin and Don Meehan signing
legislation that created the Lighthouse License plate

Legislation authorizing the new license plate passed the Senate unanimously as SB 5424 under the sponsorship of Senator Mary Margaret Haugen of Camano Island, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. On April 13, 2005, Gov. Christine Gregoire signed it into law.

This law allows non-profit groups to sponsor and receive proceeds from the sale of license plates featuring an illustration chosen by the group and approved by the DOL and the Special Licensing Plate Review Committee. Gloria Wahlin, coordinator of Admiralty Head Lighthouse, explained: "Proceeds from this plate support 501(c)(3) docent programs at lighthouses throughout the Washington State. In Island County, the funds will support Keepers of Admiralty Head Lighthouse in developing high-quality exhibits and an interpretive museum, environmental education and creating an endowment for long-term funding."

The 1995 non profit and 501(c)(3) Lighthouse Environmental Programs (LEP) is the sponsor of the plate and manages a grant program to share the funds with the other lighthouses.

Art for the proposed special plate is adapted from an original watercolor by Janet Orso, a WSU/Island County Beach Watcher. The original is on display at Admiralty Head Lighthouse and will be kept in the lighthouse as part of the lighthouse's history.

Janet Orso

For more information on Lighthouse Plates, visit the Department of Licensing website at: www.dol.wa.gov/vehicleregistration/splighthouse.html.

To locate your nearest vehicle licensing office, visit www.dol.wa.gov/officelocations.html.

For instructions on how to order a special license plate or to download the order form, visit www.dol.wa.gov/forms/420499.pdf.

Admiralty Head

Admiralty Head Lighthouse is open to the public with support from LEP and Keepers of Admiralty Head Lighthouse. Housed in the lighhouse are the coordinators for Sound Water Stewards (formerly WSU Beach Watchers) and the LEP gift shop which provideds funds to support the docent program. Approximately 50,000 people go through the Admiralty Head Lighthouse annually.



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