“Friends” groups are a collective force for water and land protection

Your Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore participated in Wisconsin Water Week, a weeklong celebration and study of all things water in our state. This virtual event highlighted innovative ways that groups devoted to protecting the state’s most important resource are advancing their work in the face of unprecedented challenges.

Erica Peterson

Friends of the Apostle Islands Board Chair Erica Peterson was an invited guest on a panel discussing the importance of “Friends” groups in the Wisconsin Lake Superior region. Peterson joined Mike Koutnik from the Lake Superior Reserve in Superior, Cathy Techtmann from the Gile Flowage in Pence and Kathy Wendling from North Pikes Creek Wetland, outside of Bayfield.

All are grateful for the role volunteers play in their abilities as non-profit groups to help steward the lakes, rivers and other water resources their members entrust to them. Each organization discussed how it involves citizens.

“We tell our story, and that of the national lakeshore, involve our constituents through their experiences, grow seeds of opportunities for the sake of stewarding park resources, involve business partners, and think 50 years… no, rather 1,000 years into the future,” said Peterson. “Our ‘friends’ including board members, committee participants, and business partners from the community, give passionately as donors or as worker bees.”

“They lead projects which provide local citizens with thousands of hours of volunteer stewardship work in the Lake Superior basin each year,” said moderator Alex Faber from Superior Rivers Watershed. 

Collectively these groups are educating citizens about sustainable stewardship of our natural resources, working with government and private interests on best practices for water use and protection, increasing understanding of our cultural and natural resources, providing safe recreational pursuits, and improving habitat.

Watch the session below.

All agreed Friends groups exist for the long-term. When asked how we do that in this time of COVID, the consensus was social media, virtual conferences, updated websites, Facebook and video are vital connections to the public. 

See the entire Water Week video playlist here or watch below.

Check out other area “Friends.”

Friends of Lake Superior Reserve 

Friends of Gile Flowage

Friends of North Pikes Creek Wetlands