Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Supports Efforts to Slow Spread of COVID-19

Bayfield, Wisconsin (National Park Service) – Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, in response to guidance from Bayfield and Ashland Counties and Wisconsin Department of Health Services, is supporting federal, state, and local efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Most park staff are currently teleworking from home. Seasonal employees and volunteers are being delayed and asked to stay at home rather than travel from across the country to work in the park. 

“The health and safety of our employees, local residents, volunteers, and visitors to Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is our number one priority,” said park superintendent Lynne Dominy. “The National Park Service (NPS) is working nationally with federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic. We will notify the public when we resume normal park operations and provide updates on our website http://www.nps.gov/apis and social media channels.” 

“Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is still in winter operations,” added Dominy. “Most visitor services are not scheduled to begin opening until mid-May when temperatures are warmer and ice has opened in local harbors. To comply with state, local and CDC health guidance, re-opening services and island facilities may need to be delayed.” 

Outdoor spaces in the mainland areas of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore remain accessible to the public. However, the park is still experiencing winter conditions, including snow covered shorelines, icy trails, and frigid waters with ice-bound harbors in Lake Superior. See Current Conditions on the park’s website (go.nps.gov/ApostleConditions) for the status of various areas within the park. Currently camping reservations cannot be made online. Person’s interested in future camping can call the park for more information (715-779-3398, ext. 2). 

If contemplating a visit to a national park during this pandemic, the NPS asks visitors to adhere to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local public health authorities to protect visitors and employees. Wisconsin is under a Safer at Home order to slow the spread of COVID-19. This includes staying at home, with limited exceptions and, if using shared or outdoor space, maintaining social distancing of at least six feet. The order is currently in effect until April 24, 2020. Two cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Bayfield County and the county is asking all seasonal residents to stay in their winter homes due to limited health services and supplies in this area. A high percentage of the local population is over 65 so COVID-19 exposure could have devastating consequences to this at-risk community. 

The NPS encourages people to take advantage of the many digital tools already available to explore Apostle Islands National Lakeshore from home, including the lakeshore website and Facebook page. 

EXPERIENCE YOUR AMERICA™ The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage. 

Teleworking park educators are creating fun learning tools for kids so parents should keep checking the park website for these resources. 

Updates about NPS operations will be posted on http://www.nps.gov/coronavirus. Please check with individual parks for specific details about park operations. http://www.nps.gov 

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 419 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at http://www.nps.gov, and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. 

Photo credit: Jon Okerstrom, Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore


We – all the partners, businesses, volunteers, behind the scenes worker bees and National Park Service staff from Apostle Islands National Lakeshore – are saddened by the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on humanity. 

As it begins to affect us in Wisconsin, we find ourselves refocusing priorities and delaying events planned as part of the celebration of 50 years as a National Lakeshore.

Where possible we will reschedule key events and may even take the 50th celebration into our park’s 51st year. Hopefully 2021, and even the second half of 2020 will be more celebratory.

Friends President Erica Peterson said,“It is at times like this, I appreciate, even more than ever, the wild places preserved in our parks. They remain a place of refuge, free from pandemics.”

We hope you can still get outside, enjoy the  nature around you, and then plan your next national park adventure. The Apostle Islands will be here, ever beautiful and waiting, and unchanged. 

Check our website at https://friendsoftheapostleislands.org for updates on our 50th, changes to the calendar, and news from “Friends.”

Here is a link to the National Park Service public health page.

Please stay healthy, and stay connected as we look for new ways to be a team moving forward. 

Update: Coronavirus situation forces Friends to cancel participation in Canoecopia, “World’s largest paddlesports show” in Madison, March 13-15

Update: With regret, Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore will not be attending Canoecopia this week. In making the decision, one Executive Board member said, “While the number of detected cases in WI is low, there are likely many undiagnosed cases. It is my feeling that elective large group gatherings should be postponed. Much of the onus to mitigate the effects of the disease are falling on the public and people’s willingness to self impose social distancing. We all are susceptible to the disease and perhaps more importantly may be vectors to our own families and communities.”

Hours after the Friends board made its decision, Canoecopia organizers cancelled the entire event and issued the following statement:

“It is with a very heavy heart that we announce that we have cancelled Canoecopia 2020. We have spent a lot of time weighing the choices, and this decision was based on the warnings and strong recommendations that have come out in recent hours regarding COVID-19. We will really miss you all this year, and we hope to see you at Canoecopia next year – March 12-14, 2021. We greatly appreciate the support of our paddling family.”

We join our the organizers in looking forward to sharing our love for the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore at the 2021 Canoecopia event.

Previous story:

Thousands of paddlers of all abilities flock to the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin every March to kick off the paddling season in style. Canoecopia is part shopping – with a vast show floor, part education – with dozens of amazing presenters, and part inspiration while we wait for the ice to melt.

It’s three days of fun and excitement, whether you’re into kayaking, canoeing, stand-up paddleboarding or you simply want to give it a try.

Friends of the Apostle Islands and our partners from the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore will share a booth on the concourse outside of the show floor. We’ll be offering our artist series of prints and special 50th Anniversary commemorative merchandise for sale, with proceeds benefiting the park.

You’ll be able to meet the photographers behind the images and learn how you can join the Friends during the special year-long celebration.

Among the presentations: Interpretive Ranger Steve Ballou of the National Park Service presents “Paddling the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore,” Saturday at 4:30 p.m. and Sunday at 12:30 in the Superior room. Steve launched a kayak ranger program and will offer tips to start planning your next trip to the islands, as we celebrate 50 years of the the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Bayfield-area businesses are joining us in celebrating the park’s 50th Anniversary too. Lisa from Silverwaves Jewelry has developed some pieces inspired by the park’s milestone year. You’ll find her booth on the show floor.

Washburn-based Bemused Design & Photography will be offering two amazing 50th Anniversary posters. We’ll have some for sale at our booth as well.

Update: Apostle Islands 50th Anniversary Resource Stewardship Symposium postponed due to Coronavirus

Due to COVID-19 concerns, the Apostle Islands 50th Anniversary Resource Stewardship Symposium has been postponed until fall 2020. Refunds for individuals who already registered for the conference will be issued in the next month.

Organizers hope to set a new date for the symposium by mid-April and hope to reopen registration early in the fall. Please monitor this site for further information. Questions may be directed to the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute or SOEI.

Update from the National Park Service:

“The Apostle Islands 50th Anniversary Resource Stewardship Symposium has been postponed. Due to current CDC guidelines and working with our partners at Northland College, the symposium will be postponed.

We are looking to reschedule the symposium into the fall, sometime between mid-Oct through mid-Nov, so please look for further information later in the summer.”

Previous story:

The Apostle Islands are an important place of sustenance for people, plants, wildlife, and more. Throughout the years and continuing today, people experience the dynamic landscape and ask questions to understand what makes this a special place.

Join us as presenters share the rich story of the Apostle Islands—from water quality, fisheries, and underwater landscapes; to wetlands, plants, birds, and mammals; to the cultural heritage, Ojibwe culture and fire, and traditional ecological knowledge.

Presenters Include
Julie Van Stappen, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
Dave Cooper, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
Dawn Bringelson, Midwest Archeological Center
Brad Ray, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Chad Abel, Red Cliff Tribe
Brenda Lafrancois, National Park Service
Jay Glase, National Park Service
Matt Cooper, Northland College
Dylan Jennings, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission
Bob Mackreth, Retired National Park Service, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
Ted Gostomski, NPS Great Lakes Inventory and Monitoring Network
Sumner Matteson, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Bill Route, Retired National Park Service
Tim Vandeelen, Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Morgan Farmer, Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Erik Olson, Northland College
Matt Smith, Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Steve Handler, Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science
Peggy Burkman, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
Damon Panek, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
Lane Johnson, Cloquet Forestry Center
Sarah Johnson, Northland College
Steve Ballou, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
Toben Lafrancois, Northland College and Northwest Passage Ltd.
Ian Karl, Northwest Passage Ltd.

Full symposium: $25
One day: $15 

Vegetation Legacies and Change Presentation, February 27, 2020

BAYFIELD, WISCONSIN – Join us for the third and final 50th Anniversary lecture hosted by Northland College.  Sarah Johnson, Northland College Professor, will be presenting on Vegetation Legacies and Change – A Half-Century of Stewardship in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, February 27 at 7:00 pm, at the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute in Ashland, Wisconsin.  The event is free and open to the public.

Vegetation in the Apostle Islands has been the subject of several major studies over the past fifty years. This talk will synthesize the findings from many of these studies to provide information and insights about the current status of many vegetation types and a description of how some vegetation has been changing over time. 

Dr. Sarah Johnson is an associate professor of natural resources at Northland College. She is a plant ecologist who studies ecological change in vegetation in the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes region. Much of her research is applied collaborative work with the National Park Service, which has included several projects in the Apostle Islands over the past seventeen years.“Sarah’s work and those who came before her provide important information needed to protect and conserve plant communities within the park” said lakeshore superintendent, Lynne Dominy.

Mark your calendars for the Apostle Islands 50th Anniversary Resource Stewardship Symposium (March 30-31). 

For information about the Apostle Islands 50th Anniversary, visit our website at go.nps.gov/Apostle50. Send 50th Anniversary inquiries via email to info@apostleislands50th.com.  ​To add an event to the 2020 Anniversary calendar, become a sponsor, or partner with “Friends” to create an anniversary logoed product, visit the website for Friends of the Apostle Islands atwww.friendsoftheapostleislands.org. “It’s not too late to become an Apostle Islands Anniversary partner,” said Friends of Apostle Islands President Erica Peterson. “Create an anniversary event, activity or product and we will help promote it for your organization or business while encouraging visitors to join our events and find anniversary logoed products.”

For more information about Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, please visit our website at www.nps.gov/apis or call (715) 779-3398.  Join Apostle Island’s on-line conversations on:  Facebook: Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.


About the National Park Service:  More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 419 national park service units and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities.  Visit us at www.nps.gov, and on Facebook www.facebook.com/nationalparkservice, Twitter www.twitter.com/natlparkservice, and YouTube www.youtube.com/nationalparkservice.

Oppedahl hired at Friends of the Apostle Islands

The Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is excited to announce that Ruth Oppedahl has been hired as its new administrative assistant. (Photo features Oppedahl on the left and Friends President Erica Peterson on the right.)

Ruth recently returned to the Apostle Islands area after a seven-year stint in Madison serving as Executive Director of the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. Prior to assuming those responsibilities, Ruth was Executive Director of the Bayfield Regional Conservancy, a land protection non-profit organization based in Bayfield.

“I am thrilled to be back near Lake Superior where my boys were raised, surrounded by all this natural beauty and wonderful community,” Ruth said.

In her new role, Ruth will handle the day-to-day operations of the “Friends.” She was preceded by Mary Grant who provided administrative support for the organization since 2013.  Grant announced her retirement from this position earlier this year.

Last year, the “Friends” provided $xxx to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore for…

The Friends of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is a charitable organization dedicated to the support and protection of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the Lakeshore. Many special events are planned to celebrate the Apostle Islands. For more information see: https://friendsoftheapostleislands.org/

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore begins its 50th Anniversary year

BAYFIELD, WISCONSIN – Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and its partners will celebrate 2020 with a year-long series of community events for its 50th Anniversary. 

The Apostle Islands 50th kick-off event, a science lecture hosted by Northland College, will occur on Thursday, January 23, beginning at 7 pm at the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute.  Jim Feldman’s presentation, “A Storied Wilderness” will focus on the interplay of Apostle Islands natural and cultural resources. The lecture will be the first in a series of three presentations leading up to the Apostle Islands 50th Anniversary Resource Stewardship Symposium on March 30-31 at Northland College. For more information, visit: go.nps.gov/Apostle50

“We are very fortunate to be the caretakers of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and honored to be a part of engaging so many people in celebrating its legacy and future,” said Superintendent Lynne Dominy. “As Wisconsin’s only national lakeshore, Apostle Islands will spend the entire year celebrating what the lakeshore means to the residents of Wisconsin and the many visitors who travel here each year.”

“We have spent a year planning with the Friends of the Apostle Islands to ensure our celebration is rooted in the community and involves interested organizations, businesses, and individuals around the lakeshore,” added Dominy. “We hope that everyone in the surrounding communities will consider integrating the Apostle Islands into their existing events or will create anniversary logoed products for their businesses. What makes anniversaries fun and meaningful is when each business and organization creates their own way of showing their passion for our national lakeshore. The possibilities are endless- from ice creams or entrees named after places in the park; to photo or art exhibits in galleries, schools or museums; from Apostle Island movie showings or music performances; to the sale of logoed mugs, t-shirts, jams, sodas, coffees, hats…the possibilities are endless for creative ideas.”

“The 50th anniversary is about celebrating what makes us unique as a destination. Visitors tell us time and time again how much they enjoy the park. ‘Where the Water Meets the Soul’ is our tagline, and for good reason––the park offers a memorable and special experience to all who visit.” said Paige Rautio, Marketing Director for the Bayfield Chamber & Visitor Bureau.

Learn more about the Apostle Islands 50th Anniversary at go.nps.gov/Apostle50, or to see a calendar of 2020 events, become a sponsor, or partner with “Friends” to create an anniversary logoed product, visit the 50th Anniversary website for the Friends of the Apostle Islands. And like Friends on Facebook.

“It’s not too late to become an Apostle Islands Anniversary partner,” said Friends of Apostle Islands President Erica Peterson. “Create an anniversary event, activity or product and we will help promote it for your organization or business while encouraging visitors to help us celebrate.” The anniversary will also include an online dialogue where personal stories, photos, art, and ideas can be shared on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and local websites.

For more information about Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, please visit our website at www.nps.gov/apis or call (715) 779-3398. Consider following Apostle Islands on Facebook. Send 50th Anniversary inquiries via email to info@apostleislands50th.com.

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.”