2018 Annual Report

Dear “Friends,”                                                                           December 2018

 We send special heartfelt thanks to our faithful contributors, supporters and volunteers. We know you are a diverse bunch from all over the U.S. I have heard your stories – island adventures, boating memories, childhood experiences, the fish that got away, or tales of historic dimension. They are all set in a backdrop of awesome measure – sunsets and night skies, beaches and sea caves, bears and blueberries, teal blue water anchorages, and your stories go on. We all want to preserve those memories and pass them on. In this annual report you will see how “Friends” steps in to help the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Read more from Friends president, Erica Peterson

We’d like you to meet the people who are on our growing team of “Friends.” They represent the 203,000 people who visit our park on average each year (290,000 in 2014, the year the ice caves went viral). They spend $31.8M in our community, and they support over 450 jobs in our local community creating an economic impact of $37.5M. That’s significant for a park that is relatively hard to get to, and, unlike most National Parks, has no entrance fee. With an operating budget of $3M (not enough considering inflation, deferred maintenance, recent storm damage, increasing visitation, rising costs, etc), park staff have accomplished amazing feats to keep lighthouses, docks, campsites and the visitor experience intact. Work still remains to sustain the park into the future and meet the needs of a rapidly changing demography. “Friends,” the official fundraising organization for the park, stands poised to help support park rangers, biologists, historians, summer seasonals, maintenance and other staff in their stewardship efforts.

Thank You to all our donors Oct. 1 – Sept 30th!  WHO ARE YOU?

National park tourism in general returns $10 for every $1 invested in the NPS. Apostle Islands NL has a high economic output for the number of visitors to the park. For example, Fire Island National Seashore in New York has over twice as many visitors, but a lower overall economic impact.


We are a volunteer board made up of dedicated members who meet and work continually throughout the year.

  • We have contributed over $350,000 to the park since 2002.
  • We communicate with over 600 contacts from all over the US who are connected in some way and read our newsletters, send us money and/or volunteer on our park projects.Our work benefits the 180,000-290,000 people who visit the park each year and contribute to the welfare of its gateway communities.
  • Our mission is to promote an appreciation for, and preservation of, the natural environment and cultural heritage of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.
  • We provide support and aid for trails, historic buildings, natural and cultural landscapes, safety features, education, research, campgrounds and wildlife to name a few.


  • Northland College & the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute
  • National Marine Sanctuary Foundation
  • National Park Foundation
  • Wilderness Inquiry
  • Wisconsin Coastal Management
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Bayfield Maritime Museum
  • Brickyard Creek Community
  • Madeline Island Wilderness Preserve


Island School students set themselves to “island time” and without iPhones learn from the rhythms of lake, forest and beach. We help with transportation. Island School is going into its 32nd year serving close to 5000 students with a 3-day wilderness camping experience.

Anyone who has been to Meyers Beach realizes how hard it is to access if you have mobility issues, let alone a kayak and gear. “Friends” is working with partners Wilderness Inquiry, Wisconsin Coastal Management Council, and matching monies from a private donor to secure an engineering study for the site.

Presque Isle’s much loved amphitheater, home to countless campfire programs, years of Island Schools and more recently a gathering of local tribal members, needs a facelift. “Friends” is working on a new vision for this important gathering place and is seeking funding to give it renewed purpose while make it more accessible.

See a Project Sampling from 2018 and What’s ON OUR RADAR FOR 2019

How much would you pay to spend another day / week in the park?

Donate today and help us to help this special park!   LEARN HOW