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

What We Propose to Do: 2017 Projects In Brief

  • Clear wilderness trails affected by the Summer 2016 wind storm
  • Resurrect Historical Day Marker Navigational Aids at Raspberry Island Light Station 
  • Help fund a ranger’s time for the Island School and pay for transportation
  • Provide funding to help finish constructing an early 1900’s Raspberry Island Lightkeeper’s rowing tender; a 16’ skiff that will be housed at the newly restored boathouse
  • Fund an exhibit on the Ashland Harbor Breakwater Light, the newest lighthouse in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, at Ashland’s new Historical Museum
  • Make a portion of the Bayfield Visitor Center information desk accessible for handicap and children
  • Purchase new heavy-duty picnic tables for park campsites
Check out this recent article in the Ashland Daily Press about how the FRIENDS supplement the needs of the NPS through contributions.

​Consider Our Challenge: Preserving Parks for the Next 100 Years


      We are seeing the effects of climate change – warmer, wetter and more frequent damaging storms. Last summer saw an extreme rainstorm that caused widespread flooding followed by a violent windstorm that took down trees that have stood for more than a century. In the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, 16 miles of trails are closed and another 14 miles of trails need clearing even after herculean efforts by rangers. Park staff is wondering how they will add the costs of clearing trees to an already-stressed budget.
      Lake Superior is tough on our park’s cultural resources too. The small park staff is challenged with big park issues and workloads, and an operating budget that does not begin to keep up with inflation and Lake Superior’s fury. Spread out over 450 square miles, our park rivals the size of Rocky Mountain National Park. Park Superintendent Bob Krumenaker estimates an 8.8 million dollar park maintenance backlog. “This year’s Centennial gave us a small financial boost, but in perspective, our operating budget is in the same place it was over a decade ago,” says Bob, “and with ten fewer rangers than 40 years ago.”
      The park now serves between 150,000 – 180,000 visitors a year, 160 miles of coastline, over 150 historic structures, and 42,160 acres of some of the largest tracts of old-growth forests that remain in the Great Lakes Region.
      In some ways we seem to go backwards. “We can no longer manage the park by ourselves,” says Bob. The Park receives Federal funds, yet fulfilling their mission requires outside funds. “Friends” help fill gaps left by the shortfall.
      “National parks are too important for us to fail them now,” says Mark Peterson, Director of the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute at Northland College and a “Friends” supporter.  “In this centennial year, let’s re-double our efforts to treat them better the next 100 years. There’s no better time than now.”
      With your help “Friends” is poised to meet Mark’s challenge.  In the past year we more than doubled our contributions to the park and would like to do that again. Please note that we have received a $5000 challenge donation from a couple passionate about the Lake and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. With this challenge we could grow our endowment and provide a steady income for education, stewardship and service related projects indefinitely. 


Ice Caves at Meyers Beach

      She has been providing summer wave and winter ice conditions in the sea caves since 2012.  Her full name is Real Time Waves Observation System. RTWOS was conceived by Dr. Chin Wu at UW–Madison, an expert in dangerous waves and tracking conditions along shorelines. Kayakers, outfitters and ice cavers can pull up her hour-by-hour information at and PLAY IT SAFE. 
      Many of our supporters are paddlers and ice walkers. A reported 20,000 paddlers visit the caves in the warm months and in the winter, up to 138,000. We feel it is within our mission to help visitors safely experience the wonder and adventure of this national park. Since RTWOS, none have been lost to Lake Superior’s cold water.
      “Friends” recently gave $8000 to UW to help secure a $26,000 grant from Wisconsin Coastal Management to update and improve RTWOS to ARTSIS (Autonomous Real Time Stereo Imaging System.) The proposed improvements to the system will ensure long-term, uninterrupted service, year-round, and a much better picture of the actual wave and ice conditions.
      RTWOS and ARTSIS use cameras and sensors to monitor and measure the quality of the waves present around the sea caves, which are often very different from the park’s public access point. On average, 96,000 people use the website per year. Park staff consider the system one of their most important educational and safety tools. RTWOS was so effective that the park won the U.S. Department of Interior Safety Award.
      “The project would not have been possible without collaboration between UW–Madison, WI Coastal Management, the National Park Service and “Friends.” Read more about it on UW’s Boundless Together Campaign.

2016 FRIENDS Projects & Activities 

  • Hosted Coffee House Chat with Park Superintendent on Issues Facing the Park
  • Participated in Madeline Island Wilderness Lecture Series – State of the Park
  • Helped sponsor the celebration to add the Ashland Harbor Lighthouse to the National Lakeshore
  • Manned an informational booth at Apple Fest, Canoecopia, Midwest Mountaineering Outdoor Adventure Expo, and Book-Across-The-Bay
  • Submitted a letter to the WI DNR on scoping recommendations regarding impacts of a CAFO on the Park
  • Submitted a letter of Support for a Greater Chequamegon Bay National Marine Sanctuary Proposal
  • Hosted 3 Centennial Celebrations including a John Muir Concert
  • Sent a Costa Rican Ranger from our sister park – Corcovado NP – to the World Ranger Conference and then to Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Projects Funded by the FRIENDS

  • Print park newspaper
  • Transportation to Bayfield for Island School students
  • Plant & maintain Gaylord Nelson Memorial Garden at Park Service Headquarters
  • Real time wave sensor at Myers Beach mainland sea caves
  • Materials for NPS centennial mural in Ashland WI
  • Hosted Bayfield Chamber Afterhours event at NPS Headquarters in Bayfield
  • Costa Rican Ranger Sponsorship
  • Begin construction of a historic boat for display at Raspberry Island boathouse
  • Curtain to protect the Fresnel lens at the Devils Island lighthouse
  • Solar shares from Bayfield Electric for visitor center at Little Sand Bay

Check It Out! For NPS History Buffs

​Get To Your Park Online: Michigan Island Fresnel Lens Featured in Google Cultural Institute
     Google recently partnered with the National Park Service to make their museum collection more available to explore online. Their NPS Museum Collection, Centennial One Object Exhibit, will let you browse over 3,800 historically and culturally significant objects of interest by Park. Look for a beautiful photo of our own Michigan Island Fresnel Lens under Apostle Islands National Lakeshore at the Google Cultural Institute.
     You can also find the historic boot sole from St. Croix National Scenic Riverway and objects used in the 1962 Alcatraz escape, for example, and lots of other interesting things!

​Taking the Park to Ashland


      On the corner of 9th Ave W and Main, with a view of the Lake, stands a new mural in Ashland’s Mural Walk. Dedicated this past spring, artist Sue Martinsen painted 13 postcard landscapes in celebration of the Park’s 100th birthday. Sue said she placed herself in each scene, felt the weather and let her paintbrush do the rest. We feel anyone looking at the mural will remember a past visit or place themselves in the Park for the first time. Numerous businesses and individuals helped support the effort.
“We can imagine what it would be like to have our feet in the sand or bundling up to visit the ice caves,” reflected State Representative Beth Meyers. “It makes us realize just how fortunate we are to have this in our backyard.”

Check out the “Mural Dedication” article in the Ashland Daily Press.

​Calling All Paddlers or Would-Be Paddlers


Paddling Book Written by “Friends” Supporter, John Frank
      Some would argue that the best way to experience the Islands is with a paddle in your hands and a sea kayak between you and the water. John Frank’s book “Apostle Islands Water Trips” makes it possible with personal and interpretive stories supported by 25 years of paddling know-how. His inspiring narration shares mileages, camping spots, shoreline landings, maps with points of interest and trails, and even food ideas. Anyone who has paddled to the islands will find both humor and useful advice in what he has to say.
     John, indebted to the National Lakeshore for the natural beauty, escape and solitude of the islands, is donating his royalties to “Friends.” Please support us by buying and promoting his book. Thank you John.
Books can be purchased on our website. Consider Writing A Review on

Giving a Voice to Water: Grant Funds Field Trips for 4th Graders


      Thanks to our partnership with the APIS National Lakeshore, FAINL was one of fourteen awardees (out of 127 applicants) to receive a National Marine Sanctuary Foundation grant for $12,521. The funds will pay for bus and boat transportation for seven coastal community school 4th grade classes in spring and fall 2016, and spring 2017.         
      Together we will provide a once-in-a-lifetime field trip for 275 4th graders from coastal communities on Lake Superior to discover the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and decide what makes this area so significant that it may be considered for nomination as a National Marine Sanctuary. This is significant since no participating elementary school 4th grade class has ever visited the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Through this field trip and follow-up activities, participants will gain insight into what it means to be good stewards of our national resources.
     Read the article in the Bayfield County Journal and see what the 4th graders had to say about this exceptional experience!