I find myself fascinated by the word ‘keeper’ – someone who looks after something that is valuable. We are familiar with the lighthouse keepers in the Apostle Islands. Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine being on an island, keeping the light burning, tending the grounds, managing staff, providing for your family, recording the weather, watching for vessels in stress, polishing brass, and above all, being responsible for the lives of countless mariners you will never meet.
The nine light towers join 150 historic structures, 160 miles of undeveloped shoreline, 42,000 acres of one of North America’s most ecologically intact for-ests and 27,232 acres of water while servicing over 170,000 visitors a year. It is a big job for today’s ‘keepers.’ The responsibility for tending our public lands, beyond what the Park Service can do on their own, demands all hands on deck and innovative ways for us to help.
Fifteen years ago, Gaylord Nelson and his daughter Tia friended local park ad-vocate Martin Hanson. With others they established “Friends of the Apostle Is-lands National Lakeshore” to support, partner with, and supplement the mission of the Park. Today budgets and staffing are less than they were 10 years ago, even as visitation increases and efforts to preserve natural and cultural re-sources becomes more difficult.
“Friends” is an active group – one of the Park’s ‘keepers.’ We are busy filling gaps and doing moderate things for the Park, but all with lasting impacts. Our 2017 work plan includes:
- Funding park projects that will make park resources more accessible to all abilities and user groups
- Providing Northland College Students and regional 4th—8th graders with a transformative wilderness and marine experience that they will take with them into their adult lives
- Working with volunteers to restore several natural and cultural sites
- Purchasing solar shares from a community solar garden to provide green energy at Little Sand Bay’s Contact Station
- Helping secure a plant collection that may one day address concerns about climate and habitat change
- Growing our Martin Hanson Conservation Endowment Fund so that we can consistently support stewardship projects
“Our task today is to keep the park relevant to both current and future generations, and to people of every de-mographic stripe, including some who don’t yet know the park is there for them and waiting for their engage-ment,” says Park Superintendent Bob Krumenaker.
For those of you who have supported our efforts as financial contributors or with your gift of time and talent – thank you for your continuing faithfulness. And for those of you who have not, please become a ‘keeper’ of the park. Use our online donate button to increase your level of support or contribute for the first time.
Recognize the beauty of this place and send it into the future.
Erica Peterson, President
Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore