“It’s obvious that there’s a lot of thought and passion that’s gone into the work, and it was really cool to see it personally.” That’s how Natalie Chin, Wisconsin Sea Grant’s climate and tourism outreach specialist in Superior, Wisconsin describes her reaction to Access for All – a Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore initative to make the park more accessible to people of varying abilities.
Chin attended one of four Access for All excursions to Stockton Island, where she saw first-hand the accessibility work that’s been completed so far, including an accessible amphitheater funded by Friends, as well as an accessible campsite and connecting boardwalk. She also learned about ongoing fundraising efforts to build an accessible ramp to improve access to Meyers Beach, gateway to the mainland sea caves. Friends is working hard to raise $325,000 in project funding while the National Park Service is working to secure matching funding through a variety of sources.
Chin says the goal fits well with the mission of Wisconsin Sea Grant, a statewide program of basic and applied research, education, outreach and technology transfer dedicated to the stewardship and sustainable use of the nation’s Great Lakes and ocean resources.
Chin says, “We’re trying to help increase access to coastal spaces so that people can come to the lakeshore, learn about the Great Lakes and experience it for themselves. Supporting efforts like these falls within our mission of outreach and education, and also promoting the sustainable use of the Great Lakes, as well.”
Chin heard Superintendent Lynne Dominy talk about the importance of showing people what’s possible. “This is how you create change,” Dominy said, “to show people that it’s possible. Then everybody wants to be a part of it because people want Bayfield to be accessible. . . We set a really high bar and we expect everyone to come on board with us.”
Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Executive Director Jeff Rennicke told the tour group, ““Look with your eyes, have a great time, but don’t forget to look with your heart at how we can help other people enjoy this as well. That’s what our Access for All program is all about.”
Friends would like to thank Natalie Chin and Wisconsin Sea Grant for supporting Access for All and this summer’s educational events. Listen to coverage of Access for All on the Wisconsin Water News podcast here. Or you can read the story on the Wisconsin Sea Grant website. You can also learn much more about Access for All and join the cause on the Friends website.