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Only 14 out of more than 60 of Nova Scotia's lighthouses have been petitioned so far. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

Communities across Nova Scotia are being asked to commit to saving lighthouses before dozens of them are abandoned by the federal government.

Two years ago, 488 active lighthouses and 488 inactive lighthouses across the country were declared surplus by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

The responsibility fell to individuals, municipalities and community-based non-profit groups to try to take over the surplus lighthouses. Under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, they can seek heritage designations for the lighthouses through a petition to Parks Canada.

Parks Canada has to receive the petitions —with at least 25 signatures each — by May 29.

Out of more than 60 lighthouses in Nova Scotia, only 14 have been petitioned so far.

Margaret Herdman lives on Isle Madame in Cape Breton, where there used to be 13 working lighthouses. She's put together petitions to save three of the four remaining lighthouses.

"There are fishing communities all around the island and it's obviously a very important part of the life here — oceans, fishing," she said.

Herdman said the Isle Madame Lighthouse Preservation Society has raised more than $5,000 through the sale of a calendar, and other fundraising efforts are continuing.

Natalie Bull, the executive director of the Heritage Canada Foundation, said whoever applies to take over a lighthouse will also have to assume financial responsibility for its maintenance.

"There is a challenge for communities to feel confident that they can find the funding to maintain these buildings," she said Thursday.