A burning question – are beach fires okay in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore?

As a Friend of Apostle islands National Lakeshore, I have always puzzled over how to have a safe campfire on a beach, and leave no trace.

We did it with an aluminum garbage can lid, a bucket, and a shovel. We brought local wood and carried out the few remaining ashes.

We were determined not to add to the piles of charcoal randomly scarring the shoreline. There’s nothing like the combination of sounds… the crackling fire… the gentle waves lapping on the shore… the sounds of children playing in the distance.

The view towards Sand Island from the mainland was magical on this breezy summer evening with the Lake.

As night took over we watched a westbound Great Lakes Steamer, covered in lights, pass on the horizon as the night sky filled with stars and the milky way slowly emerged.

About the larger question, the National Park Service offers this leave no trace guidance: “Build campfires in fire receptacles where provided or on a sand beach near the water’s edge, below the vegetation line.

Beach fires are not permitted on beaches on Raspberry Island, Julian Bay, and Presque Isle Bay on Stockton Island, or on beaches within 150 feet of campsites where fire receptacles are provided. Fires should be no larger than three feet in height or diameter.”

For more information “leave no trace” principles and on campfires in the National Lakeshore see:https://www.nps.gov/apis/planyourvisit/camping-practices.htm

Thank you in advance for knowing the rules and for practicing “leave no trace” during your next visit to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Where in the park is Neil? The week 18 answer is South Twin 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.

Beaches tend to be some of the most heavily used areas in the Apostle Islands.  The fragile vegetation on these sandscapes cannot survive frequent trampling. Today Neil is taking a close look at efforts to help revegetate the sandscape on this island.

At the eighteenth stop on our digital tour, Neil is on South Twin Island. It is one of the northernmost islands, closest to Rocky Island, at 47.0678° N, 90.5868° W

The sandy shore on the west side of South Twin Island has been a popular spot for more than a century.  

The Booth Fish Company established a commercial fish camp there in the late 1800s.

South Twin’s protected harbor attracted numerous commercial fishermen after Booth closed its operation there in the early 1900s.  When Lenus Jacobson purchased the island in 1931, his treatment of the other fishermen quickly led them to move their fishing camps to other islands.  Jacobson then opened the Troller’s Home Resort and began renting cabins to sport fishermen.  

In 1959 John Atwood bought South Twin Island for a vacation retreat and built an airstrip on the island.  Trees have reclaimed the airstrip and most of the old buildings have been removed from the sandspit.  

The National Park Service planted thousands of plants to help restore the barren ground where the buildings once stood. 

 The island is still a popular anchorage for boaters and features a dock and four campsites. 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.

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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Exciting news! Friends update – Summer 2020

Dear Friend of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore,

 

This was our year to celebrate the Apostle Islands 50th year as a National Lakeshore. So many great events designed to gather together, tell the stories, show off the new projects, and forge the next fifty years – are on hold.  We are rebooting to celebrate “Caring for our place on Gichigami,” with a new kickoff date of the lakeshore’s establishment on September 26th until Apple Festival next year.

The virus hasn’t slowed much of the exciting work we’ve undertaken. In the past year, with your help and successful grant funding, we contributed over $100,000 for park needs focused on the following areas: 

  • Accessibility efforts included designs for a new beach ramp at Meyer’s Beach, a new amphitheater on Stockton Island, a scope & viewing platform at Little Sand Bay, & identifying future park accessibility priorities including boardwalk completion on Sand Island and development of an accessible trail at Little Sand Bay.
  • Community Outreach efforts included recruiting 41 new business partners, improving the FAINL website, hosting community Zoom meetings to discuss COVID-19 prevention efforts, & starting social media campaigns including “Where in the Park is Neil”. Volunteer opportunities will return in 2021 if community events are rescheduled and if COVID-19 concerns are mitigated. 
  • Resource Stewardship efforts included partnering with Apostle Islands Historic Preservation Conservancy (AIHPC) to stabilize the icehouse and eroding shoreline at the West Bay Club, removing the unstable chimney from the West Bay Club, & supporting the 50th Anniversary Resource Stewardship Symposium with Northland College, which is being rescheduled – stay tuned for new dates.
  • Visitor Experience efforts were focused on COVID-19 prevention including providing masks and supplies to park staff to help keep the lakeshore open this summer.
  • Youth efforts included adding a Northland Student to the FAINL Board and improving the Stockton Island amphitheater for their use when Island School resumes.

Next our all-volunteer organization is seizing and embarking on a transformative growth opportunity.  A report examining our organization determined that “Friends” is a fast-growing, healthy non-profit which can achieve much more with a paid Executive Director at its helm.  Our exciting news is we received an anonymous $175,000 gift that will pay for half the cost of a full-time director over 4 years. By the fifth year, based on conservative projections of our financial situation, this position is projected to be self-sustaining.  Our Board feels that with this strategic hire, we can accelerate our financial support for park resources and visitor experiences.

Please consider supporting us now more than ever – and if you have not before please step in and help us make this critical leap while  keeping our projects and programs moving forward. Consider planned giving or monthly payments. To discuss further, call me. I welcome your thoughts. You can contribute via mail, or online at  https://friendsoftheapostleislands.org/donate 

In closing, think about the things you most cherish about the Apostle Islands. We look forward to contributing to your connection with us.

Your “Friends of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore,” 

Signature

Erica Peterson
President, Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
651-343-2722

 P.S. The Apostles remain for you as they have for over 12,000 years. Peaceful. Beautiful. Whole. Remind yourself of the sound of their waves on your choice of shoreline. Picture the blueberries behind the dunes; the beacon of a lighthouse across a reflective bay; the souls behind the stories of those who loved and toiled in the islands before it was a national lakeshore. With your help, the “Friends” works to preserve the wild and the wonder.


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Where in the park is Neil? The week 17 answer is Michigan 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.

Lighthouse historian F. Ross Holland said that “within the boundaries of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is the largest and finest single collection of lighthouses in the country.” 

At the seventeenth stop on our digital tour, Neil is on Michigan Island. It is home to the first lighthouse and the tallest lighthouse in the park, at 46.8775° N, 90.4959° W.

Originally intended for Long Island, the first light in the Apostle Islands was built in 1856.  After one year of use, the U. S. Lighthouse Board abandoned the lighthouse in 1857.  

That light was renovated and re-established in 1869.  The light in the 65-foot tall Michigan Island tower often failed to warn ships away from navigational hazards.  

A taller tower was needed to improve the light’s visibility. The Bureau of Lighthouses solved the problem by relocating a surplus tower from Pennsylvania’s Delaware River to Michigan Island in 1918.

The recycled tower sat in sections at the station until contractors reassembled it in 1929.  It became the tallest tower (112 feet) in the Apostle Islands.  

The Old Michigan Island Light was restored and a set of exhibit panels explaining the station’s fascinating past was installed in 2016.  Tours of the lighthouse are not available this year due to the pandemic. 

Michigan Island features a dock near the light station, a mile-long trail between the lighthouse and the beach and a single campsite near the beach. 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.

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 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.

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 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. Want to know more about Julian Bay? Take a virtual hike with Ranger Melissa of the National Park Service.

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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