As remote and out of the way as some of our national parks can feel at times, the old adage still holds true: we are stronger together.
In that spirit, a wide-ranging group of park superintendents and park partners staff came together for the Lake Superior Summit hosted by the National Parks of Lake Superior Foundation, the Red Cliff Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa, and the National Park Service. The gathering included representatives from Isle Royale National Park, Voyageurs National Park, Pipestone National Monument, the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, Grand Portage National Monument, the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Support groups and park partners represented included Friends of the Apostle Islands, National Parks of Lake Superior Foundation, the National Parks Conservation Association, Pipestone Indian Shrine Association, Mississippi Park Connection, the Wild Rivers Conservancy, and others.
“While our parks are spread out over the whole region,” said Jeff Rennicke, Executive Director of Friends of the Apostle Islands, “there are many threads of issues, concerns, and planning needs shared by all the parks and partners – from climate change to the difficulties in providing affordable staff housing. By coming together, we begin to weave those shared threads into lifelines to the future.”
The three-day gathering, held at the Legendary Waters Resort in Red Cliff, Wisconsin and kicked off with a welcome from Tribal Chairman Chris Boyd, included presentations on subjects such as current funding needs and sources, decarbonizing Lake Superior national parks, the use of silviculture in mitigating the effects of climate shifts, hiring and employee retention issues, Equity and Inclusion in park programming, and more.
In addition, the National Park Service provided a day-long tour of Little Sand Bay, Sand Island and the Raspberry Island Lighthouse aboard the park boat Phoenix. The day was meant tohighlight the cooperative accessibility efforts of Friends of the Apostle Islands and the National Park Service. Under a sky as blue as the lake, the islands gleamed like the gems that they are for the tour highlighting both the progress that has been made and the opportunities ahead in this park and on Lake Superior.
“Each of our parks face many challenges,” Jeff Rennicke says of the conference. “Facing those challenges will require vision, creativity, and cooperation. Alone, so many of these issues can seem overwhelming and daunting. But by working together we can create a bright future for all of Lake Superior’s parks. Thank you to the sponsors, hosts, the park staff, and the representatives of all the parks and park partners for coming together and making us all just a little stronger.”
Jeff Rennicke is Executive Director of the Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. He is also an educator, outdoor adventure travel writer and photographer.