A challenge for participants and for you, as the Apostle Islands 50th Anniversary Resource Stewardship Symposium ends

BAYFIELD, Wis. Saying, “stewardship starts with collaboration,” Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Superintendent Lynne Dominy closed the 50th Anniversary Resource Stewardship symposium with three questions. She also presented the audience watching online with a challenge based on the presentations they had seen.

During 2 days of presentations, almost 30 experts from a wide variety of fields revealed things about the park that many recreational visitors may not realize. Things like the remarkable diversity of plants and animals in and around the islands. Some, like the American marten and piping plover are worthy of protection while invasive species including lamprey eels and zebra mussels are threats to be measured and monitored.

Marten Cover
American marten (image from the presentation)

The experts explored the cultural teachings, the human connections and archaeological artifacts of the past, and how we can apply traditional ecological knowledge to manage the islands for today and tomorrow.

Scientists also shared surprises revealed by their exploration of the depths of Lake Superior, the arboreal forests, the bogs and wetlands, the singing-sand beaches and the iconic sandstone cliffs.

They talked about how climate change is warming the lake at a rapid rate, and what the long-term trends may mean for the islands and their inhabitants.

Speakers also showed the creative, artistic the positive impact these islands are having on children… the next generation that will be entrusted with stewarding the national lakeshore into the future.

Under Surface Cover
“Under the Surface” participant (image from the presentation)

With all of this as her foundation, Dominy said, “take a deep breath and think a bit about what you’ve heard over the last two days.”

She encouraged the audience to think about what they have done to steward the lakeshore in the past. She said, “It’s really important to look back and recognize efforts, accomplishments and successes of the past because they are a part of the future.”

She then asked everyone to consider how the pandemic has changed their behavior in the present. “Try to find something positive from the crisis,” she said, “because you have to acknowledge your resilience before you can think about the future.”

Her last question looked to the future: “What actions should we take individually or together to steward this place between now and 2050?” Dominy talked the work now being done by the Park Service to develop a resource stewardship strategy. About that, she said, “a lot of the reason we did this symposium is to listen. This is kind of like having a prescription for stewardship – what are we going to spend our time, effort and money on over the next 10, 20, 30 years?”

Dominy said the process really starts with “caring and respecting and working together.” While the scope of the stewarding the park may seem big and overwhelming, Dominy said it is important to develop a series of “small tangible things that we can measure to know that we are making progress and move it forward every year.” 

600 people registered for the symposium. Dominy encouraged them to provide their actionable ideas through an online feedback form and through ongoing involvement with the park and allied organizations.

In the weeks ahead, we will publish an on-demand version of the symposium on the Friends of the Apostle Islands website. We invite you to watch the presentation videos and will give you an opportunity to share your ideas and feedback too.

We want to thank the National Park Service, the presenters, the sponsors and the many people behind the scenes who made this amazing 50th Anniversary event possible. We hope you enjoyed it and encourage you to join us and get involved as we continue to celebrate 50 years of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.