Where in the park is Neil? The week 16 answer is Eagle Island

As part of the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, we’re going on a virtual tour with Neil Howk, a man who has spent decades exploring the islands and teaching people about what makes them special. He knows the islands like the back of his hand.

The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is considered an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society because of the outstanding habitat it provides for migratory and resident bird species. You can check out the different species found on the islands here.

At the sixteenth stop on our digital tour, Neil is on Eagle Island.   Eagle Island is the westernmost and second-smallest island in the chain, at 46.9424° N, 91.0365° W.

Eagle Island offers important habitat for colonial nesting species like double crested cormorants and herring gulls.  

Great blue herons and (appropriately) bald eagles will also occasionally nest there.  

To protect these birds, Eagle Island is closed to camping and visitors are asked to stay at least 500 feet from the island during the nesting season, which runs from May 15 to September 1.  

The island is only 20 acres in size.  It has no docks or trails and is covered with a dense growth of forest including paper birch, fir, and Canada yew.

Look for another digital adventure next week. To play along, simply like the Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Facebook page and check back next Wednesday for the clue to next week’s location. Make a guess in the comments and we’ll post the answer on Thursday. Click here to view the entire series.

You can find updates about NPS operations on www.nps.gov/coronavirus. For more information about Apostle Islands National Lakeshore,  call (715) 779-3398 or visit go.nps.gov/ApostleConditions.

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Where in the park is Neil? The week 15 answer is Raspberry Island

A visit to the Apostle Islands provides a recreational and rejuvenating experience for people seeking relief from the stresses of their everyday lives. 

As part of the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, we’re going on a virtual tour with Neil Howk, a man who has spent decades exploring the islands and teaching people about what makes them special. He knows the islands like the back of his hand.

At the fifteenth stop on our digital tour, Neil is on Raspberry Island.   Raspberry Island is a great place for many of the activities that visitors enjoy in the Apostle Islands.  Hiking, birdwatching, picnicking, boating, sailing, paddling, cross country skiing, sightseeing cruises, playing croquet, and lighthouse tours are all popular ways of enjoying the island. Raspberry Island is relatively close to the mainland, at 44.9422° N, 93.0905° W.

 The island has trails from the lighthouse to the beach and from the lighthouse past the West Bay.  The lighthouse grounds feature a picnic area, a swing, a garden, and an area to play croquet.  

During most summers, park rangers offer guided tours through the furnished lighthouse keeper’s quarters and up into the lighthouse tower.  This year the lighthouse is closed to the public due to the pandemic.  The island’s dock is popular with sailors and boaters.

Neil is photographing someone doing one of the most popular activities that visitors enjoy in the park…walking on the beach.  This beach is on a cuspate foreland about 3/4 of a mile from the lighthouse on this island. A cuspate foreland is a beach formed by waves hitting the shoreline from two dominant different directions.

  • Sailing past the Raspberry Island lighthouse
  • A tour boat stops at Raspberry Island
  • Learning the history of the Raspberry Island lighthouse keepers
  • The view from the top of the lighthouse is something special!
  • Swinging in the late afternoon sun
  • Playing croquet on the lighthouse lawn
  • The dock and boathouse have both been rebuilt since this photo.
  • Enjoying a picnic lunch
  • Kayakers paddle by the pier in this file photo
  • Birdwatching is a popular activity on the islands
  • In the right conditions. cross country skiing is wonderful
  • Neil enjoying the view from the top of the lighthouse

Due to the pandemic, the National Park Service is operating with limited operations. Overnight camping is not currently permitted. However, overnight docking for self-contained vessels and day use of the islands is permitted.

You can find updates about NPS operations on www.nps.gov/coronavirus. For more information about Apostle Islands National Lakeshore,  call (715) 779-3398 or visit go.nps.gov/ApostleConditions.

Virtual video tour by Jon Okerstrom

Look for another digital adventure next week. To play along, simply like the Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Facebook page and check back next Wednesday for the clue to next week’s location. Make a guess in the comments and we’ll post the answer on Thursday. Click here to view the entire series.

Sign up for the Friends newsletter

Sign up for our periodic Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore email newsletters, full of information about how you can get involved, what we’re doing to benefit the park and much more. We promise we won’t flood your in-box or your mailbox.

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Share your adventure: Julian Bay after the storm

We love it when visitors to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore share their adventures, their photographs and their videos with us, so we can share them with you — especially now when the pandemic is limiting travel and activities for so many park lovers.

This week, local sailors Erica and Mark departed Bayfield to explore Stockton Island and beyond. They ventured ashore to survey the damage from some recent storms and to enjoy some of the islands best natural features at Julian Bay, a favorite mooring spot for boaters. It was a windy, wavy day.. perfect to enjoy the sights and sounds of the island.

As is the case on the mainland, they found some downed trees. On the plus side, they discovered some pitcher plants which love wet bogs like those surrounding the lagoon at the far end of the Julian Bay beach. Sometimes the lagoon is open to the lake. Sometimes the wave action closes the opening with beach sand.

Stockton Island covers more than 10,000 acres. It’s 7.5 miles long and offers 23 miles of shoreline, as well as miles of wonderful hiking trails, campsites and other facilities. The bridge of sand connecting Presque Isle Point to the rest of the island is a tombolo. As you hike the .4 mile long Julian Bay trail from Presque Isle bay through the woods to the beach, you will find bogs, dunes, lagoons, savannahs, and pine forests.

Dig your bare feet into the “singing sands” of Julian Bay. When you do that, or rub your hands across the surface you will hear a noise created by the relatively unusual shape and composition of the sand crystals.

Stockton Island is home to lots of delicious blueberries. When they’re ripe, you’ll probaby see black bears foraging for a meal. If you see one, never approach. Please give the bears their social distance. They’ll probably know you’re coming before you see them. They have a keen sense of smell.

Thanks to Erica and Mark for sharing their adventure on Stockton Island with us. We wish them fair winds as they sail on to their next destination.

If you have images or videos of your adventure in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, we would love to share them with our Friends community. Simply email them with a brief summary of your adventure to info@apostleislands50th.com and we’ll share them with the world.

Due to the pandemic, the National Park Service is operating with limited operations. Overnight camping is not currently permitted. However, overnight docking for self-contained vessels and day use of the islands is permitted.

You can find updates about NPS operations on www.nps.gov/coronavirus. For more information about Apostle Islands National Lakeshore,  call (715) 779-3398 or visit go.nps.gov/ApostleConditions.

Sign up for the Friends newsletter

Sign up for our periodic Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore email newsletters, full of information about how you can get involved, what we’re doing to benefit the park and much more. We promise we won’t flood your in-box or your mailbox.

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Where in the park is Neil? The week 14 answer is Hermit Island

As part of the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, we’re going on a virtual tour with Neil Howk, a man who has spent decades exploring the islands and teaching people about what makes them special. He knows the islands like the back of his hand.

At the fourteenth stop on our digital tour, Neil is on Hermit Island, thought to be named for William Wilson, an employee of the American Fur Company who built a cabin on the island and led a solitary life there in the 1850s.  Hermit Island is at 46.8862° N, 90.6880° W. It’s about 2 miles north of Madeline Island.

Hermit Island has gone by other names in its history, including “Ashuwaguindag Miniss” (Ojibwe for “The Further Island”), Illinois Island, Austrian Island, Wilson’s Island and Askew Island. We now call this Hermit Island, named for Mr. Wilson, an employee of the American Fur Company who built a cabin on the island and led a solitary life there in the 1850s. You can read stories about the hermit on the National Park Service website.

In the 1890s, Frederick Prentice opened the Excelsior quarry on Hermit Island and built himself a beautiful three-story house called the Cedar Bark Cottage.  

The cottage no longer exists, but several blocks of stone cut from the quarry still sit on the shore waiting for a ship that will never come.  

Hermit Island’s impressive sandstone bedrock forms striking cliffs along its northeast side, including a stack at the tip of the island that is a popular roost for gulls and cormorants.  

The island’s proximity to the mainland makes it a popular rest stop for sea kayakers, and a short swim for bears visiting from the mainland.  There are no campsites on Hermit Island.

Look for another digital adventure next week. To play along, simply like the Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Facebook page and check back next Wednesday for the clue to next week’s location. Make a guess in the comments and we’ll post the answer on Thursday. Click here to view the entire series.

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City of Bayfield coronavirus mask policy now in effect – what you need to know

​(City of Bayfield) A message from Mayor Ringberg

Before the 4th of July the Chequamegon Bay Area had five confirmed cases of COVID 19.  Now two weeks after the 4th, that number has tripled to fifteen, and is expected to increase.

The City of Bayfield is the smallest city in the state in Wisconsin.  We have less than 500 full time residents with an average age around 60, living in an area of about one square mile.  Most of our summer residents are also in their retirement years.  We need to do our best to protect the most vulnerable in our community.

The businesses in Bayfield are all family owned and operated. We need to protect these families and their employees from getting sick, which could cause their business to shut down in the middle of our busy season.  I’m afraid that if one of our businesses is shut down by the Covid-19 virus, the economic impact may be so great that they will never open back up again.

Our visitors come from all over, some may even have traveled here to escape the growing number of cases in their community.  We would like all our visitors to trust that we are doing everything we can so they won’t get sick on their vacation.

Most of our business have voluntarily implemented steps to slow the spread of Covid-19 in their shops, and we are grateful for that, but some of  these shop owners have been abused by visitors who refuse to wear a mask.  Although every business owner has the right to refuse service to anyone, provided it’s not because of race, religion, or sexual orientation, some business owners are afraid to tell people to put on a mask or leave their store.  They have asked the City to back up their efforts with an ordinance.

The risk of COVID-19 transmission remains high, particularly in indoor settings with an increased likelihood of close contact and the sharing of air that may contain coronavirus contaminated respiratory droplets and/or aerosols.

Evidence cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that a significant portion of individuals with the coronavirus are asymptomatic, and that pre-symptomatic persons can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms.

We know that wearing a face mask is one of the most effective ways to reduce person to person transmission of COVID-19. Face masks serve as a protection to prevent droplets from entering the air, which is known as source control. When combined with other preventive measures, including physical distancing and proper hygiene practices, wearing face masks is a simple and effective way to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.  

So last night, July 15, 2020, our City Council unanimously passed an ordinance that states:
“While indoors in any commercial business or City office, and in an Outdoor Space that is open to the general public, all customers, employees, and any other occupants or users of such area shall wear a face covering.  While wearing a face covering, social distancing (6’) shall still be maintained so far as possible as described by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.”

“Outdoor spaces” means any outdoor location where people are unable to distance themselves a minimum of six feet.

“Face covering” means a material covering the nose and mouth for the purpose of ensuring the physical health or safety of the wearer or others.  A face covering can be secured to the head with ties or straps or simply wrapped around the lower face. It can be made of a variety of materials, such as cotton, silk, or linen. A cloth face covering may be factory-made or sewn by hand or can be improvised from household items such as scarfs, T-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels. Acceptable, reusable face covering options for the general public include bandanas, neck gaiters, homemade face coverings, scarves, or tightly woven fabric such as cotton t-shirts and some types of towels.

Please refer to the full ordinance for all details.

The City of Bayfield is also requesting that the Bayfield County Health Department issue a public health order requiring the use of masks in all locations in Bayfield County that are open to the public, restricting large gatherings, and issuing other public health orders regarding the safe operations of businesses during this surge in Covid-19 cases.

Along with our Mark Ordinance which is necessary to slow and prevent the transmission of COVID-19 and more effectively protect the lives and property of people within the City of Bayfield:

• We will continue to promote best practices that come out of the County, the CDC, the World Health Organization and other scientific groups that are working to control the virus.  
• We will continue to support our local businesses who have acted on their own initiative to require masks in their shops, and remind them that if they need help with aggressive anti-maskers, our police officers can be called to respond.
• We will continue to lobby County, State and Federal leaders for help to protect our citizens, businesses and visitors.  
• We will do our best to remind residents and business owners not to fall into negative thoughts and finger pointing at their neighbors.  We are all scared.   We suggest instead that each of us make time to send a kind word or a note of encouragement to those who are trying to do their best in these uncertain times.  

Bayfield is a strong and connected community and will continue to be a place where we all look out for one another.

Be Safe, Be Kind, Wear a Mask and Social Distance!
Mayor Gordon Ringberg

Find more information on the City of Bayfield website.


In addition to the city of Bayfield ordinance, here is information about Bayfield and Ashland Counties.

In addition to the above information from the city of Bayfield, the Bayfield County Health Department, you can find updates about NPS operations on www.nps.gov/coronavirus. For more information about Apostle Islands National Lakeshore,  call (715) 779-3398 or visit go.nps.gov/ApostleConditions.

Where in the park is Neil? The week 13 answer is Devils Island

As part of the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, we’re going on a virtual tour with Neil Howk, a man who has spent decades exploring the islands and teaching people about what makes them special. He knows the islands like the back of his hand.

At the thirteenth stop on our digital tour, Neil is in the light tower on Devils Island looking for the only Fresnel lens still found in an Apostle Islands tower. Devils Island is located at 47.0730° N, 90.7257° W. At various times in the 1800s, this island was also been known as Louisiana Island, Barney and Lamborn’s Island, Brownstone Island and Rabbit Island. It is the northernmost point in Wisconsin.

Devils Island is a popular destination for boaters and sightseers looking to visit the island’s spectacular sea caves, the best of which are on the northern end of the island.  Tour boats regularly do sunset tours. When the seas are rough, the waves smash into the caves with thunderous booms.

Devils Island has the northernmost light station in the park. During pre-pandemic times, island visitors could climb the stairs to the top of the lighthouse, accompanied by a park volunteer.

The light marks an important turning point for ships heading to and from Duluth.  The third order lens was installed at Devils Island in 1901. 

The Coast Guard removed the lens from the tower when the light was automated in 1989, but returned in 1992 after area residents sued them for removing a historically significant part of the light station.  

In October 2019 park staff found that one of the bullseyes had fallen from the lens.  Park staff stabilized the lens and are requesting professional recommendations for its repair. A solar-powered beacon flashes a red light at night.

A one mile trail traverses the center of Devils Island leading to a campsite and small harbor at the island’s south end.  The docks and campsite at the south end of the island are currently closed due to storm damage.  Visit the NPS website for an update on current park conditions.

Look for another digital adventure next week. To play along, simply like the Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Facebook page and check back next Wednesday for the clue to next week’s location. Make a guess in the comments and we’ll post the answer on Thursday. Click here to view the entire series.

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Mask advisory goes into effect Friday morning in Bayfield, Ashland Counties

Visitors to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore should be aware of new requirement to wear masks in certain situations in Bayfield And Ashland Counties, effective Friday morning. The requirement affects activities in enclosed buildings. When outside, please observe social distancing and wear a mask when social distancing is not possible.

(News Release – Bayfield County Health Department) Effective Friday, July 17, 2020 at 8:00 am, Ashland and Bayfield County Public Health are issuing an Emergency Advisory which stipulates that everyone age 5 and older wear a face covering or mask when in any enclosed building where other people, except for members of the person ’s own household or living unit could be present. This advisory applies to all of Ashland and Bayfield County.

“Public health research shows that face coverings are critical to slowing the spread of COVID-19. Given the number of infections in our counties and surrounding area, as well as the multitude of visitors coming to our area, we need to all be wearing face coverings every time we leave the house,” stated Elizabeth Szot, Ashland County Health Officer.

“We do not take this advisory lightly. It is on every person in our communities to do better. People should assume that everyone wearing a mask is doing it to protect you and themselves. If someone is not wearing a mask, assume they are genuinely not able to do so,” added Sara Wartman, Bayfield County Health Officer.

Per the advisory, people should wear a face covering that covers their nose and mouth when in public, which includes in businesses, health care settings, waiting in line, and on public transportation. The advisory also indicates that individuals are to wear face coverings when in someone else’s home when you are not of the same family group.

Exceptions are made for certain activities such as eating at a restaurant, but during those activities, 6 feet distancing of individuals not from the same household or living unit should be followed at all times. Some people may be exempted if they have a physical, mental, or developmental condition that prevents them from wearing a mask.

Szot states, “masks and distance are really the two most effective means of slowing the spread of COVID-19.” Wartman adds, “given the recent rapid increases in cases in our counties, which has happened even before school and college classes resume this fall it is imperative we take this step now to try and slow the spread of COVID through our communities.”

If someone is unable to wear a mask or face covering in a business due to a condition or disability, people should ask that business for reasonable accommodation, like a curbside pickup or delivery option. Children ages 2 through 4 are highly encouraged to wear masks in public, children 5 and older are advised to wear masks. If your child is not able to wear a mask, only bring them to places where it is necessary they be so that your child does not get or spread COVID-19 to others.

People can cover their faces a variety of ways to comply with this advisory. Simply wear a bandana, scarf, or neck gaiter around your nose and mouth. Or you may create a cloth face covering by either sewing one or using a no-sew method on the CDC website.

Medical-grade surgical masks or N95 respirators are not required or necessary for general public use. In addition to wearing a mask, these actions will help protect yourself and others from COVID-19:

  • Stay home if you are sick or feel off.
  • Stay home if you do not need to go out. Working from home, virtual gatherings, and using curbside or delivery ordering are still the safest and best options to protect yourself and others.
  • Stay 6 feet from other people. Respiratory droplets are in the air when other people cough, sneeze, talk and breathe. Staying 6 feet from others will lower the chances of you coming in contact with the virus from those droplets.
  • Assume you have come in contact with COVID-19 if you go out. Watch for symptoms like fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. If you have these symptoms, call your doctor to be tested.

In addition to the above information from the Bayfield County Health Department, you can find updates about NPS operations on www.nps.gov/coronavirus. For more information about Apostle Islands National Lakeshore,  call (715) 779-3398 or visit go.nps.gov/ApostleConditions.

Where in the park is Neil? The week 12 answer is Manitou Island

As part of the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, we’re going on a virtual tour with Neil Howk, a man who has spent decades exploring the islands and teaching people about what makes them special. He knows the islands like the back of his hand.

At the twelfth stop on our digital tour, Neil is on Manitou Island, at 46.9640° N, 90.6594° W. This island is near the center of the archipelago.

Beginning in the late 1800s, commercial fishermen built fishing camps on most of the Apostle Islands so they could live closer to locations where they set their nets.  Fishermen began to use the camp on Manitou Island in the early 1900s, occupying a log cabin built by Swedish loggers.  

Hjalmer Olson, known to his friends as the “Governor”, bought the Manitou fish camp in 1938.  He and his brother Ted moved another log cabin from Ironwood Island to the site and constructed additional buildings.  The Olsons used the camp year round, but also allowed other fishermen to stay there for short periods of time, especially in winter.  

The “Governor’s” cabin and the log bunkhouse were restored by the National Park Service in 1984.  The cabins are still furnished with many of the Governor’s personal belongings and fishing equipment.

Manitou Island has a dock near the fish camp that is very popular with boaters.  Though damaged by winter storms, the dock was repaired and reopened in June.  Manitou Island also has a small picnic area near the fish camp and a single campsite near a small beach on the west side of the island about two miles north of the fish camp.

Look for another digital adventure next week. To play along, simply like the Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Facebook page and check back next Wednesday for the clue to next week’s location. Make a guess in the comments and we’ll post the answer on Thursday. Click here to view the entire series.

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Project update: construction begins for accessible amphitheater on Stockton Island

Sparks are flying in Madison Wisconsin, where crews are now building the framework for the new, universally accessible amphitheater to be installed on Stockton Island this summer.

The new raised-deck amphitheater is funded by $55,000 in grants and private contributions to Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. The tubular structural steel framework with wooden decking will replace the aging benches and fire ring now located on a gentle, wooded hillside near the Presque Isle Bay Dock and other National Park Service facilities.

The amphitheater is used for programs for park visitors and for middle school students attending the residential Island School programs. It’s a short distance away from an the Presque Isle Bay campsites, one of which is fully accessible with a raised platform and boardwalk access.

Workers at the Wickcraft Company in Madison are cutting, drilling and welding the support structure for the wooden deck. The steel components will be galvanized to provide decades of service; they’re guaranteed for century. The structure now being fabricated in Madison will be transported by boat to Stockton Island and assembled later this summer.

When completed, the project will enable visitors in wheelchairs, using walkers or with mobility issues to move from the dock or already accessible campsite up to the contact station and on to the amphitheater.

  • Artist's rendering of what the new amphitheater might look like
  • Location of the amphitheater on Stockton Island (Courtsey Google Maps)

This much-needed project fits within the Friends core commitment to removing barriers for people of all abilities to explore the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. It the first of several big projects planned according to the Park’s 2012 Accessibility Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan. 

Friends plans to do fundraising for the benches in 2021. We appreciate those who donate with purpose and passion, often with specific personal connections in mind. I’d like to help.

This project is also made possible by a funding award from the National Park Service and Outdoor Foundation. In addition: Funded by the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office for Coastal Management under the Coastal Zone Management Act, Grant #NA17NOS4190035.

Stay tuned. We will share updates on this wonderful project as the work continues..

Where in the park is Neil? The week 11 answer is Long Island

As part of the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, we’re going on a virtual tour with Neil Howk, a man who has spent decades exploring the islands and teaching people about what makes them special. He knows the islands like the back of his hand.

At the eleventh stop on our digital tour, Neil is on Long Island, which is an extension of the sand spit off Chequamegon Point. Long Island is at 46.7269° N, 90.7849° W.

Piping plovers love to nest on the open beaches found on Long Island.  For more than 30 years, Long Island is one of the only places in Wisconsin where these tiny shorebirds have nested successfully.  In 2019, nesting plovers were also found on Outer and Stockton islands.

Every year, scientists capture the newly hatched chicks before they can fly to weigh and measure them and place colored bands on their legs for identification. 

At least two breeding pairs of plovers returned to Long Island again in 2020. If you visit Long Island, do not approach piping plovers or their nests and if you have a dog, be sure to keep it on a leash.

  • Where in the park is Neil?
  • Long Island Beach
  • Chequamegon Point Light
  • New boardwalk
  • Long Island Light Station
  • Hiking to the nesting site
  • Piping plover nesting site
  • Luring the baby birds into capture bags
  • Piping plovers
  • Ready for banding
  • Ready for release
  • Banded and running free

Long Island also features two light towers, La Pointe Light and Chequamegon Point Light.  A new mile-long boardwalk trail now connects the two lights.  Visit the NPS website to learn more about the lights.

The island has one campsite and a dock.  Shallow conditions and high lake levels may prevent access to the dock or from the dock to the shore.

The campsite on Long Island is located a half-mile southeast of LaPointe Lighthouse. The site includes a picnic table, fire ring, food locker, stump privy, tent area marked by post Click here to learn about the sites and availability.

Look for another digital adventure next week. To play along, simply like the Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Facebook page and check back next Wednesday for the clue to next week’s location. Make a guess in the comments and we’ll post the answer on Thursday. Click here to view the entire series.

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