SOUTHPORT (AP) – Burnt Island Light Station will be open for public tours starting June 30, marking the first time the public will be invited onto the island for organized outings.

The lighthouse, which has guided mariners into Boothbay Harbor since 1821, installed a new docking system in May allowing the island to accommodate larger boats and more visitors. The state acquired Burnt Island Light Station in 1998.

A living history and natural history program is scheduled to be held twice a day. The program will explore the lives of Burnt Island’s lighthouse keepers, and visitors can take guided hikes around the five-acre island to look at the fauna, geology and wildlife.

The state is currently in the process of raising $300,000 for construction of an island education center for students.

The United States Government acquired the island on May 25, 1821 by paying $150.

to Jacob Auld and Joseph McCobb.

Burnt Island is the ninth oldest lighthouse in Maine, but its 30-foot, conical-shaped tower has never been rebuilt, making it the second oldest tower in the state.

Burnt Island Light Station was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on Nov. 23, 1977.

For the last five years, the state has allowed limited day use of the island, but no formal programs were offered. Kayakers, sailors and an occasional excursion boat were the most common visitors.

Public tours of the island will be offered Monday through Friday from June 30 through Sept. 26. For more information about visiting Burnt Island Light Station contact the Department of Marine Resources at 633-9559 or Balmy Days II Cruises at 633-2284.

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AP-ES-06-22-03 1316EDT

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