The Friends reveal their new 2019 photo “MYSTIC DREAMS”

Most people experience the unforgettable sea caves and the shoreline of Devils Island by day… by kayak, by sailboat or by tour boat. It’s a totally different, awe-inspiring experience on a moonless night when only the Milky Way lights the southern sky. We are pleased to present to you a view of the island that very few people have ever experienced.

Madison, Wisconsin-based photographer Joe Garza composed “Mystic Dreams” to bring together many of the core elements that make the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore such a special place: layers of ancient sandstone endlessly reshaped by Lake Superior’s pounding waves, a shallow pool in the rock and the subtle curve of the shoreline and trees receding in the distance.

Joe positioned himself along the island’s western shoreline, just inches above the sandstone, to capture the Milky Way reflecting perfectly in the pool. You’ll notice a shooting star crossing the core. Saturn and Jupiter are also visible.

This image is the tenth in our series celebrating the outstanding visual beauty of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. See more HERE!

“Wilderness Accessibility Fund” Case for Support

​Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is raising funds for their Wilderness Accessibility Fund to make the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (APIS NL) one of the most accessible, inaccessible national parks. With the funds they will help the Park implement projects that would otherwise take decades to accomplish if park funding were the sole means of finance.
Why is this so important?
One in five Americans, and growing with our aging population, has some form of disability. The National Park Service admits that it is “under serving people with varying abilities and their traveling partners (per Accessibility in the NPS, a report for 2015-2020). For the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore this means an average of 18,300 potential visitors with a $2.3 million impact on the community will find experiencing the park difficult or impossible.
According to federal law (Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973) APIS NL is obligated to ensure their services and facilities are accessible to visitors of all abilities. The Park has a plan (2012 Accessibility Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan) to address the needs commensurate with limited federal funding and the challenges of a park in Lake Superior. Two priority projects, – access at Meyers Beach on the mainland and an amphitheater at Presque Isle on Stockton Island – both identified in the 2012 plan, need funding from new sources of revenue.

Welcoming Lynne Dominy, new Superintendent

She hails from Acadia National Park in Maine, but by way of Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Point Reyes National Seashore, Bandelier National Monument and Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument where she was the Acting Superintendent. Most recently she has been Chief of Interpretation and Education.

Lynne is particularly interested in fostering collaboration. She met with our board on her first visit here in February – we had two snowstorms that week. She, nevertheless, remained enthusiastic about returning the end of March to begin work and call this lake and islands her new home.

From Lynne: “For me, working for the National Park Service is a deep pleasure and immense responsibility. All of us work together to care for landscapes at the heart of many nations, which shape and celebrate many heritages. This National Lakeshore is forever linked to the cultures, lifestyles, and outdoor experiences of the Ojibwe people and other residents of Wisconsin and surrounding states. I am excited to learn from the park staff, listen to surrounding community ideas and needs, and experience every aspect of this wilderness and dynamic watershed. The “Friends of Apostle Islands” are a key partner in building stewards of this landscape and in helping all individuals, organizations, and businesses define their roles in the future of this special place. I look forward to meeting everyone very soon and to celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in 2020.”

Little Sand Bay to get a Handicap-Accessible Viewing Platform

The view from the end of the dock of the islands to the north – Sand, York and the open Lake – is beautiful, if you are tall enough to look over the rocky storm barrier. Not so if you are under 5 feet or in a wheelchair. Thanks to a $5000 private donation we are able to fund a handicap-accessible viewing platform that will be built by the park staff this fall. Little Sand Bay attracts campers, paddlers and day users. With the new visitor center that will be built this and next year, that area will see many more visitors, and to many it is their closest experience to the Apostle Islands. 

Island School in 32nd Year

It is hard to determine who benefits most from every year’s Island School experience – 3 days of wilderness camping on Stockton Island in May. The 6-8th graders give up classroom learning and social media for a hands-on, once–in–a lifetime experience with Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands. The Northland College students who participate as educators use this to jump-start their careers. NPS staff that lead the project are rewarded with a sense of purpose outside their normal responsibilities as rangers. And “Friends” is glad to further our mission to promote an appreciation for, and preservation of, the natural environment and cultural heritage of the APIS NL. This year’s participants will be from Westfield School, Minocqua Middle, Ashland’s Our Lady of the Lake, Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Bayfield School, and Renaissance School.
To see the story behind Island School:

April 11th – APIS Quarter Launch and Coin Exchange

​10am at Legendary Waters Resort, 37600 Onigamiing Drive, Red Cliff, WI
Commemorating the release of the 2018 APIS NL coin to be released in the US Mint “America the Beautiful” Quarters Program. It features a drawing of a kayaker along the Devil’s Island shoreline with the iconic lighthouse in the background above the sea caves. “Friends” is providing the funding for local schools to attend the launch. Children will receive a quarter keepsake. Present will be representatives from the US Mint and guest speakers. For collectors, a coin forum will be held at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center on April 10th at 6pm.
See or Facebook

Friends to Help Park With Gifts of Time & Money

​$31,000 is our contribution to the Park in 2018, and volunteers will once again be active come spring. “We are pleased that “Friends” can contribute so significantly to address Park needs. We really appreciate their help and involvement,” says Park Superintendent Bob Krumenaker.  Specifically, “Friends” will be funding several deferred maintenance projects including replicated storm doors to protect the entrances into the Raspberry Island Lighthouse. The old keeper’s quarters on Michigan Island will get a facelift once the lead paint is removed. Funding will remain in place to provide transportation and staff for the Island School, now in its 32nd year. And thanks to several individual donors “Friends” is able to purchase additional handicap-accessible picnic tables. 

Let us know if you would like to purchase a picnic table in memory of someone. 

A group of volunteers assisted the Park by planting and growing Hair and Beach Grass in hard to
​grow sand to pave the way for other plants to help stabilize high traffic areas and prevent erosion.

Remember the Friends in your Year End Giving

​Dear “Friends,”

The darkest time of the year can also be the most captivating, especially in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. I recently visited the mainland trail along the top of the sea caves and captured these scenes before and after snowfall. They are not ice caves yet but they still strike awe in the deeper places of my soul. Add to that the background noise of wind and water, and the ‘klunk’ when waves hit the hollow places. Ice is forming on ledges and on hanging roots from trees battered by the season’s numerous storms. 

I was not the only one there. I saw only footprints but could feel the same wildness that attracts a wolf. It’s no wonder that this place is a National Park. A visit is never disappointing.

“Friends” works to enhance the park’s remarkable natural and cultural resources for everyone. Please remember us in your year-end giving.

Wishing you holiday greetings,
Erica Peterson
President, Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore


These wolf prints measuring 4 1/2″ long were found inside the Park boundary. Note the deer print (top right).


Ice forming in one of those “klunk” places.

Fourth Graders Take in Field Trip to the Islands

​The Lake always reminds us that she is the boss. Area 4th graders, their teachers, and all involved recentparticipated in a field trip to the islands that has been rescheduled four times.  

“The 4th time was the charm,” says one of the organizers, Erica Peterson with the “Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.” Last Spring’s trips were cancelled twice due to high winds and waves but last week we had postcard perfect conditions – blue skies, eagle sightings, and sunshine on Julian Bay’s singing sands beach.

The flexibility required to have a field trip on the lake makes this an adventure the children will always remember. 

Marengo Valley and Our Lady of the Lake field trips were the last of a series starting in spring of 2016. They were funded by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (NMSF) in collaboration with the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. 

Thanks to funding from the NMSF’s Hollings Grant over 300 4th graders from the coastal communities of Hurley, Ashland, Washburn, Bayfield and South Shore spent a day realizing the interplay between the lake and islands, and their cultural heritage, local economy, and personal lives.

For example, the children were introduced to the ecological significance of the Chequamegon Bay and Apostle Islands to the area’s fishery and in turn it’s importance to all of Lake Superior. “The significance of the marine landscape to the local economy becomes vivid when put into historical perspective,” says Peterson. 

The children boated past an old brownstone quarry, a commercial fishing boat, and learned about the ‘why and how’ of logging, farming, and some Native American subsistence practices. “These islands have been a lure for centuries; everyone who visits finds a good reason to stay or return,” says Peterson. 

​The children found out that ‘everyone’ includes bears, migratory birds and even fish like Lake Sturgeon and herring.

​Experiencing a place is so much better than hearing about it. The children will write about their visit on post cards. When asked how many have ever been to the Apostle Islands National Park, only a few could raise their hands. 

“Everyone loved it and appreciated the opportunity,” says Zachary Larson, 4th grade teacher at Marengo Valley Elementary School.

The grant was made possible because the Chequamegon Bay Area has been a proposed national marine sanctuary. Both the “Friends” and the NMSF are non-profits who help to create opportunities for education, citizen science, outreach, and community engagement.  With help from the National Park Service’s interpretive staff, and the Apostle Islands Cruise Service, the field trip was well worth the wait.  

More information on the NMSF can be found at

Become a “Keeper” of the Apostle Islands

​Dear “Friends,” 
I find myself fascinated by the word ‘keeper’ – someone who looks after something that is valuable. We are familiar with the lighthouse keepers in the Apostle Islands. Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine being on an island, keeping the light burning, tending the grounds, managing staff, providing for your family, recording the weather, watching for vessels in stress, polishing brass, and above all, being responsible for the lives of countless mariners you will never meet.
Now spring forward some 100 years. The original job of light keeping has given way to automated lights. But today there’s a bigger job tending all the light sta-tions and the cultural and natural resources of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

The nine light towers join 150 historic structures, 160 miles of undeveloped shoreline, 42,000 acres of one of North America’s most ecologically intact for-ests and 27,232 acres of water while servicing over 170,000 visitors a year. It is a big job for today’s ‘keepers.’ The responsibility for tending our public lands, beyond what the Park Service can do on their own, demands all hands on deck and innovative ways for us to help.

Fifteen years ago, Gaylord Nelson and his daughter Tia friended local park ad-vocate Martin Hanson. With others they established “Friends of the Apostle Is-lands National Lakeshore” to support, partner with, and supplement the mission of the Park. Today budgets and staffing are less than they were 10 years ago, even as visitation increases and efforts to preserve natural and cultural re-sources becomes more difficult.

“Friends” is an active group – one of the Park’s ‘keepers.’ We are busy filling gaps and doing moderate things for the Park, but all with lasting impacts. Our 2017 work plan includes:

  • Funding park projects that will make park resources more accessible to all abilities and user groups
  • Providing Northland College Students and regional 4th—8th graders with a transformative wilderness and marine experience that they will take with them into their adult lives
  • Working with volunteers to restore several natural and cultural sites
  • Purchasing solar shares from a community solar garden to provide green energy at Little Sand Bay’s Contact Station
  • Helping secure a plant collection that may one day address concerns about climate and habitat change
  • Growing our Martin Hanson Conservation Endowment Fund so that we can consistently support stewardship projects

“Our task today is to keep the park relevant to both current and future generations, and to people of every de-mographic stripe, including some who don’t yet know the park is there for them and waiting for their engage-ment,” says Park Superintendent Bob Krumenaker.

For those of you who have supported our efforts as financial contributors or with your gift of time and talent – thank you for your continuing faithfulness. And for those of you who have not, please become a ‘keeper’ of the park. Use our online donate button to increase your level of support or contribute for the first time.

Recognize the beauty of this place and send it into the future.

For more about why you should become a ‘keeper’ of the park and to see upcoming volunteer opportunities browse this website or check out our Facebook page.

Erica Peterson, President
Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore