Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Supports Efforts to Slow Spread of COVID-19

Jon Okerstrom photograph

Bayfield, Wisconsin (National Park Service) – Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, in response to guidance from Bayfield and Ashland Counties and Wisconsin Department of Health Services, is supporting federal, state, and local efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Most park staff are currently teleworking from home. Seasonal employees and volunteers are being delayed and asked to stay at home rather than travel from across the country to work in the park. 

“The health and safety of our employees, local residents, volunteers, and visitors to Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is our number one priority,” said park superintendent Lynne Dominy. “The National Park Service (NPS) is working nationally with federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic. We will notify the public when we resume normal park operations and provide updates on our website http://www.nps.gov/apis and social media channels.” 

“Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is still in winter operations,” added Dominy. “Most visitor services are not scheduled to begin opening until mid-May when temperatures are warmer and ice has opened in local harbors. To comply with state, local and CDC health guidance, re-opening services and island facilities may need to be delayed.” 

Outdoor spaces in the mainland areas of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore remain accessible to the public. However, the park is still experiencing winter conditions, including snow covered shorelines, icy trails, and frigid waters with ice-bound harbors in Lake Superior. See Current Conditions on the park’s website (go.nps.gov/ApostleConditions) for the status of various areas within the park. Currently camping reservations cannot be made online. Person’s interested in future camping can call the park for more information (715-779-3398, ext. 2). 

If contemplating a visit to a national park during this pandemic, the NPS asks visitors to adhere to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local public health authorities to protect visitors and employees. Wisconsin is under a Safer at Home order to slow the spread of COVID-19. This includes staying at home, with limited exceptions and, if using shared or outdoor space, maintaining social distancing of at least six feet. The order is currently in effect until April 24, 2020. Two cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Bayfield County and the county is asking all seasonal residents to stay in their winter homes due to limited health services and supplies in this area. A high percentage of the local population is over 65 so COVID-19 exposure could have devastating consequences to this at-risk community. 

The NPS encourages people to take advantage of the many digital tools already available to explore Apostle Islands National Lakeshore from home, including the lakeshore website and Facebook page. 

EXPERIENCE YOUR AMERICA™ The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage. 

Teleworking park educators are creating fun learning tools for kids so parents should keep checking the park website for these resources. 

Updates about NPS operations will be posted on http://www.nps.gov/coronavirus. Please check with individual parks for specific details about park operations. http://www.nps.gov 

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 419 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at http://www.nps.gov, and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. 

Photo credit: Jon Okerstrom, Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

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