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.
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.
- 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
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!
“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.
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 Amazon.com
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!
- Print park newspaper
- Fund Island School in conjunction with the National Park Service
- Fund a Kayaking Expedition in the Apostle Islands with students and chaperones from Lake Baikal, Russia
- Replaced the entrance sign at Meyers Beach
- Replaced signs as needed throughout the Park
- Fund the construction and placement of bat boxes
- Raspberry Island Boathouse engineering study
- Fund the restoration of the Raspberry Island Boathouse
- Fund Ice Caves operations
- Fund Island School Transportation, Supplies & Camping Fee
- Fund the Gaylord Nelson Memorial Garden at the Park Headquarters in Bayfield
- Volunteer assistance improving Myers Beach mainland trail