Scientists discover tiny new species on Outer Island

You’ll never see it without a microscope but a newly-documented species calls Outer Island home. And it’s named for a retired water quality specialist from the Great Lakes Inventory and Monitoring Network division of the National Park Service.

We’re talking about a microscopic species of algae, Semiorbis eliasiae, named after Joan Elias, of the Great Lakes Network. These diatoms have ornate cell walls made of opaline silica, or biologically-produced glass. When the diatoms die, these skeleton-like fragments settle to the bottom of shallow lagoons, including a lagoon on Outer Island, in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Diatom
Live diatom colony – images courtesy Mark Edlund, St. Croix Watershed Research Station

Aquatic biology scientist Mark Edlund at the St. Croix Watershed Research Station identified the new diatoms, found in a sediment core collected in 2007 from the Outer Island lagoon. 

Joan Elias, for whom the diatoms are named, later collected live samples from the lagoon in 2011. That’s according to a scientific journal article documenting the discovery, published in March of this year.

To determine that this is indeed a new species, scientists compared the diatoms discovered on Outer Island with other diatoms found in Florida, New Jersey, Norway and Canada.

In the NPS newsletter, The Current, Edlund said, “The genus Semiorbis is really uncommon. I’ve been collecting diatoms since 1987 and have only found it twice. Outer Island is one of those places.”

Outer Island – Jeff Rennicke photo

A core sample taken from Outer Island indicates that Semiorbis eliasiae lived in the lagoon as early as the 1950s. The future of these rare diatoms is uncertain, given the ever-changing size and shape of the lagoon and Lake Superior’s impact on it. A large storm opened the lagoon to the lake in September of 2014. By July of 2020, a smaller lagoon was re-isolated from the lake as the sand barrier reformed. As of May, 2021 there are two lagoons cut off from the lake.

Lagoon on the southwest end of Outer Island- Google Map image

The pandemic stopped diatom sampling in 2020. Scientists expect to resume collecting them this summer.

Samples of Semiorbis eliasiae are permanently preserved in diatom collections at the Science Museum of Minnesota, the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia and the Canadian Museum of Nature.

You can read the scientific journal article documenting the discovery here.

Why it matters

Different algae species need different conditions of temperature, light, water acidity and oxygen levels to thrive and survive. Sediment samples taken from lakes and rivers can reveal how those populations have changed over hundreds of years. Scientists believe that knowing how these diatoms responded to environmental changes in the past may help them to predict how lakes will respond to future climate changes.

Prescribed pile burns scheduled for Raspberry and Michigan Islands during week of June 13th


The National Park Service says piles of accumulated wood debris at the Raspberry and Michigan Island light station cultural landscapes will be burned later this month.  

In a statement, the Park Service said, “Weather permitting, prescribed burning of these piles is scheduled during the week of June 13th with the assistance of the National Park Service’s Black Hills Fire Module.  Wind, humidity, smoke dispersion and surface moisture will be assessed before igniting any fires.  Please be aware that smoke may be visible.”

The Park Service said a 19-acre prescribed burn on the Highbush Unit, Stockton Island tombolo, was successfully completed on May 12th with the assistance of Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, Menominee Indian Tribe, and U.S. Forest Service fire-fighters.

Read more about the recent prescribed burn here.

Watch a session on the use of fire in the Apostle Islands from the recent 50th Anniversary Resource Stewardship Symposium here.

Project update: accessible amphitheater construction nears completion Stockton Island

It’s almost done! National Park Service crews have been busy this spring, assembling and installing a brand new accessible amphitheater on Stockton Island, thanks in part to Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and collaborating donors and funding partners.

This new raised-deck amphitheater is being built near the Stockton island Visitor Center, on the same gentle hillside where aging benches and fire ring had been located. The site is near the Presque Isle Bay Dock and an accessible campsite, all of which are connected by a boardwalk.

Stockton Island Map
Stockton Island – NPS map

When completed, around July 4th, this 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 raised-deck amphitheater.

Planners envision that the new amphitheater will be used by park visitors for campfire programs, by middle school students attending annual Island School educational programs, as well as for tribal gatherings, meetings of researchers and gatherings for other groups and individuals. In the Ojibwe language, the amphitheater is Maawanji’iding  (Place Where) Maawanji’odiwag (They come together.)

Workers at the Wickcraft Company in Madison, Wisconsin manufactured the support structure components last year. Installation, originally planned for last summer, was delayed by the pandemic. This spring, two park service boats, including a 47-foot landing craft, delivered the the high-strength structural steel components and treated lumber to Stockton Island.

On the island, National Park Service crews of 8 to 10 people assembled the galvanized steel support structure and decking of pre-cut southern yellow pine. Project manager Tommy Richardson says it was like putting together a challenging puzzle, working from very technical blueprints to keep everything level. He credits the team at Wickcraft who designed and pre-built every puzzle piece and the on-site installers for this engineering feat.

“It is everything we wanted and more. We are very pleased with how it went together, how it looks, and the process. I am proud of the team who worked on this so hard.”

Tommy Richardson, Marine and Grounds Supervisor

Click through the slideshow to see each stage of this important construction project.

  • Location of the amphitheater on Stockton Island (Courtsey Google Maps)
  • Amphitheater Welding
  • Amphitheater under construction
  • Lumber waiting to be installed
  • Wooden decking
  • Jeff Rennicke views the amphitheater
  • Friends Board Member Bob Jauch
  • Artist's rendering of what the new amphitheater might look like
  • Existing boardwalk
  • Boardwalk to the new amphitheater
  • At times, the amphitheater can become a muddy mess. This project solves that challenge.

The next construction tasks include installing a safety railing and ramp rails, a fire pit and ring, 19 ABA and ADA accessible recycled plastic benches and possibly picnic tables. Trees will also be planted to create a natural buffer between the amphitheater and the nearby ranger residence.

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 is the first of several big projects planned according to the Park’s 2012 Accessibility Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan. 

Park Superintendent Lynne Dominy said, “This amphitheater now enables school groups, camping groups, and other boating groups to have a fully accessible seating and meeting area near the dock on Stockton. This is a great example of what can be accomplished when partners like FAINL write grants and find donors to support accessibility projects.”

“Accessibility means so much to our staff because we want this park to be available for everyone to experience its beauty and history”

Lynne Dominy, Superintendent
Artist's rendering of what the new amphitheater might look like
Conceptual rendering of how the amphitheater could be .configured

Friends Board Chair Erica Peterson said, “We feel fortunate to have donors, and a park, who embrace the need to share the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, and help “Friends” leverage public and private funds to further steward the park’s future.”

“The amphitheater sits at the heart of the Apostle Islands. ‘Friends’ is excited to secure the benefits of this enduring national lakeshore for all.”

erica peterson, friends board chair

The new amphitheater is funded by $55,000 in grants and private contributions to Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore’s wilderness accessibility fund.

1:1 matching grant funding was made possible through a 2019 Outdoor Foundation Challenge Cost Share Program which supports NPS mission-related projects that align with the goals of local partners.  This project was one of 20 chosen from 97 applications.  The Outdoor Foundation is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and growing future generations of outdoor leaders in partnership with the National Park Service and Wisconsin Coastal management.

Wisconsin Coastal Management Program and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office for Coastal Management under the Coastal Zone Management Act, Grant #NA17NOS4190035 initially funded the schematic drawings that started the project.

OUTDOOR FOUNDATION

What is next to do?

  • Raise funds for an appropriate weather shelter
  • Install an interpretive sign
  • Continue developing appropriate accessibility features at Stockton beyond a campsite, ramps, and amphitheater

We look forward to providing updates on this project and to a potential grand opening celebration later this summer. We invite you to get involved with Friends of the Apostle Islands to make this – and other exciting accessibility projects – happen in the park. Those plans include improving access at Meyers Beach, Little Sand Bay and Sand Island.

Lakeshore Logbook – Josh Sweet

Josh Sweet

As part of our 50th Anniversary celebration, we are collecting and sharing the stories of people connected to the islands, whether they are park guests, former residents or former park employees.

This is the 17th in our series called “Lakeshore Logbook,” a collection of memories provided by former National Park Service employees.

Living and working in the park on a day to day basis, they’ve experienced a lot to be sure. We hope you enjoy their perspectives.

Josh Sweet worked as a seasonal Park Ranger at Meyers Beach from May to October of 2014.

What is the coolest thing you did in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (APIS) as part of your job? 

Now that’s a loaded question. I think I can narrow it down to two experiences. Roving hikes in the bog on Stockton Island while interpreting carnivorous plants, and roving kayak trips near the mainland sea caves while interpreting the many facets of the great Lake Superior.  

pitcher plants on Stockton Island
Pitcher plants on Stockton Island

What is the most fun experience you had in the park? 

Interpreting the park’s use of renewable energy and promoting climate change education at the Meyer’s Beach trailhead.  

Please share a memorable experience you had in the park. 

Working for the Apostle Islands was truly an honor and a dream come true. The balanced combination of cultural history, environmental education, and outdoor recreation makes the Apostle Islands one of the most incredible national parks in the region. 

Josh Sweet and friend on sailboat
Josh Sweet and a friend on a sailboat.

What is the most amazing thing you saw in the park? 

Lake Superior amazes me every time I get a chance to look at it.  

Josh Sweet paddles mainland sea caves
Josh Sweet paddles mainland sea caves

Please share an accomplishment from your tenure at APIS that gives you pride. 

One of my greatest accomplishments while working at the Apostle Islands was publishing an article in the Student Conservation Association’s (SCA) newsletter, The Greenway. The article highlighted my journey from a national park volunteer and intern to my first appointment as a park ranger at the Apostle Islands. It is my hope that this message helped to inspire others to take part in environmental-based career paths so that we can continue to teach visitors about the significance of the natural world. 

Early season visitor at Meyers Beach
Early season visitor at Meyers Beach

What story from your time at APIS do you share most frequently? 

My quest to see all of the Apostle Islands lighthouses.  

What, if any, ’something’ from your time at APIS was an impetus for your chosen career or life path?

 Working at the Apostle Islands helped narrow my interest and career path to one that involves significant park visitor services. Working as a seasonal park ranger at Meyer’s Beach helped prepare me for working with large groups of visitors all at once and multitasking in an actively busy park environment.  

Josh talks to a school group at the Hokenson Fishery
Josh talks to a school group at the Hokenson Fishery

If you could return to just one place in APIS, where would you go? Why? 

Devils Island. There are few places in the world that make me feel as small as one does when standing on Devil’s Island. It is truly a humbling and awe-inspiring experience.  

Josh Sweet waving to the cruise boat from the top of the tower at Devils Island
Josh Sweet waving to the cruise boat from the top of the tower at Devils Island.

Josh is currently the Office Administrator at the Lowry Nature Center of Three Rivers Parks in Victoria, Minnesota. He is also the Editor of The Trumpeter, a local publication from the Minnesota River Valley Audubon Chapter. We want to thank him for his entry into our 50th Anniversary Lakeshore Logbook. We look forward to sharing more Logbook entries with you in the coming weeks. You can find the whole series here.

Watch now: Paddling the Apostles – Sense of Adventure series premiere

Paddling the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is an experience like no other in the world. Only in the park can you experience the combination of stunning sandstone sea caves carved by wind and water, pristine beaches and by area, the largest freshwater lake in the world. The park includes an archipelago of 21 islands, 155 miles of shoreline and more than 27,000 square acres of water. Sometimes the big lake is glass calm. Sometimes it can generate massive powerful waves, just like an inland ocean. Even during the hottest days of summer, the lake is cold enough to take your life if you’re not prepared. Always, Lake Superior requires respect.

Paddlers, both new to the sport and experienced, are drawn to the lakeshore for day trips to the mainland sea caves or multi-day, island-to-island adventures. Before you go, it’s important to learn as much as you can about what it takes to plan and enjoy a safe and successful trip.

With that in mind, the Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore presents the premiere episode of our Sense of Adventure series of online events, entitled “Paddling the Apostles.” This series is part of our 50th Anniversary celebration.

Maddy Marquardt

To explore the topic, Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Executive Director Jeff Rennicke invited certified kayak guide, photographer and author Maddy Marquardt to share important guidance on everything from choosing proper equipment to developing a float plan and staying safe on the water. Maddy also shared some of her photography and thoughts on ethically responsible sharing on social media.

This program was originally presented live on May 25th, 2021. Watch it now. Below the video we have included links to resources mentioned during the course of the discussion.

Featured links

Maddy Marquardt’s Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/maddymarq

Maddy Marquardt’s website:
https://madelinemarquardt.com

National Park Service kayaking information:
https://www.nps.gov/apis/planyourvisit/kayaking.htm

National Park Service camping information:
https://www.nps.gov/apis/planyourvisit/camping.htm

National Park Service safety information:
https://www.nps.gov/apis/planyourvisit/safety.htm

Seawatch cameras above the mainland seacaves:
https://wavesatseacaves.cee.wisc.edu/

New National Weather Service zone forecast for the Apostles:
https://friendsoftheapostleislands.org/2021/03/30/weather-forecast-change-for-apostle-islands-boaters-paddlers-sailors-is-now-in-effect/
 


Sense of Adventure is an ongoing series of events. Watch them all here.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook to stay in the know about our summer of celebration and the next Sense of Adventure event. And if you would like to support educational, inspirational programming like this, by all means, join us as a Friend of the Apostle Islands.

Suggested support levels


$1,000+ Legacy
$500 Stockton Island
$250 Oak Island
$100 Sand Island
$50 Golden Anniversary
$25 Friend

To invest in your park through the mail, download and print a donation form. It’s a PDF file (the free Adobe Acrobat Reader or similar software is required.)

Enclose the form and your check made out to ​Friends of the Apostle Islands and mail to:​ Friends of the Apostle Islands, PO Box 1574, Bayfield, WI 54814.

We welcome business memberships too!

Donate now with a debit card or credit card or with PayPal

Learn about how the donation process works.

You can solve Apostle Islands History Mysteries this summer

The Apostle Islands are full of nature’s beauty, wildlife and adventure. The Islands also have a rich and varied human history. This summer, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the park, we will be exploring that history with a little help from some friends: large, nearly life-sized standing poster board images of lighthouse keepers, sailors, ship captains, fishers, island lovers and more.

Each cutout will ask you a question, present a mystery of island history, and offer you a QR code. Point your cell phone camera at the QR Code on the sign and follow the link to learn the answer to that History Mystery. It’s fun for all ages and educational.

Look for our History Mystery cutouts popping up in local shops, on the ferry, in the parks, all over the Bayfield area.

Follow us on Facebook to find out where our Apostle Island celebrities are now. But hurry. We hear these historical figures won’t hang out in one place for very long.

History Mystery

We’ll be introducing new History Mysteries and new cutouts all summer long. When you find one, take a selfie and share it with us on our Facebook page. Have a great summer. And as always, we invite you to join us at Friendsoftheapostleislands.org to support the protection of the islands, their beauty, their adventure, their wildlife, and their history.

History Mystery: Francis Jacker marooned on Oak Island!

Francis Jacker was keeper at Raspberry Island Lighthouse from 1885 through 1892.

Jacker was born in Germany in 1840 and studied for three years at the Munich Academy of Arts.  He immigrated to America in 1859 and moved to northern Michigan in 1862 to reunite with his brother who was a missionary among the Indians.  In 1863 Jacker married an Ojibwe girl, named Ikwesens (Little Girl), or Catherine, as she was christened.  Her father, Wabos, was one of the great chiefs of the Ojibwe nation.  They built a home near Portage Entry, Michigan and started a family. 

Francis Jacker at his farm near Portage Entry, Michigan
Francis Jacker at his farm near Portage Entry, Michigan
Francis & Catherine Jacker - Francis and his wife at home
Francis & Catherine Jacker – Francis and his wife at home

Jacker learned the Ojibwe language and spent much of his life studying Ojibwe history, culture, and legends.  Jacker was also a talented artist.  He took advantage of his spare time at the lighthouse to create etchings of nature scenes on shelf fungus that were sold as far away as Europe.  

Francis creating his shelf fungus art
Francis Jacker creating his shelf fungus art

Though the Raspberry station had once been allotted an assistant keeper, the position was abolished in 1882, presumably for reasons of economy. Keeping the station without help proved a challenging job, as one of Jacker’s log entries attests in the best bureaucratic manner:

“The reinstitution of an assistant keeper for this station is deemed necessary by the present writer for reasons submitted by letter to the inspector. In case of an emergency, no assistance is available on the island, and the proper surveillance of the revolving apparatus during the long nights of the fall when frequent windings are required, is exhausting. “

Though Jacker was married, he apparently chose not to bring his family to the lighthouse. Sometimes the logbooks give evidence of his loneliness, as on one Independence Day:

“Rain on the Fourth. No celebration within twelve miles of the station. The day passed in quiet solitude as usual.”

That year he had no visitors until mid-August:

“August 8, 1887. Tug Daisy brought an excursion party who visited the station and expressed their delight over the rural attractions of the place. They were the first visitors of the season.”

Little more than a month later, Jacker’s worst fears came true. His solitary situation put him into some real trouble. The keeper’s log for September 1887 tells the tale:

painting of Francis Jacker trying to save his skiff in September 1887
Painting of Francis Jacker trying to save his skiff in September 1887

“Early in the morning of the 13th, a westerly gale sprang up, all of a sudden, endangering the sailboat of the station which that night had been anchored near the dock. Jumping out of bed, I hurried to move it to a place of safety at the eastern extremity of the island— the dilapidated condition of the ways rendering it impossible, for the moment, to have it hauled up to the boathouse.”

Raspberry skiff 1925 - a skiff similar to what Francis had at Raspberry Island in 1887
Raspberry skiff 1925 – a skiff similar to what Francis Jacker had at Raspberry Island in 1887

The Apostle Islands are full of beauty, adventure, and wildlife; they also have a rich and varied history. This summer, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the park, we are exploring that history with a little help from some friends: large, nearly life-sized standing poster board images of lighthouse keepers and sailors and ship captains and island lovers and more. Each one will ask you a question, present a mystery of island history, and offer you a QR code to explore the answer.

So look for the cardboard cutouts popping up in local shops, on the ferry, in the parks, all over town, and when you find them, introduce yourself, look for the question, and explore the answer to one of the History Mysteries of the Apostle Islands. Then join us at Friendsoftheapostleislands.org to support the protection of the islands, their beauty, their adventure, their wildlife, and their history.

History Mystery: How Gert Wellisch saved Sand Island Lighthouse

Gert Wellisch (1896-1966) spent her childhood summers in the Apostle Islands. In 1910 her father Robert Wellisch, a well-to-do manufacturer from St. Paul, joined with three other businessmen to build an imposing, Adirondack-style lodge on the west shore of Sand Island.  

the West Bay Club
The West Bay Club
The main room in the West Bay Club
The main room in the West Bay Club
Gert by the wood pile at the West Bay Club in 1916
Gert by the wood pile at the West Bay Club in 1916

Gert grew up to be a St. Paul schoolteacher, and her small cadre of female city friends became a regular fixture of the Sand Island summer community during the World War I era.

Their island adventures, exploring forests, farms, beaches, and rock outcrops, and sharing late nights around West Bay Lodge’s massive stone fireplace, are amply and humorously documented in her surviving photo scrapbook: it is itself a rich visual representation of the era.  The West Bay Club still stands today, now owned by the National Park Service. 

Gert and her girlfriends on the Sand Bay beach 1922
Gert and her girlfriends on the Sand Bay beach 1922

When Gert reached adulthood, a unique opportunity came her way to have her own summer place on the island. In 1920, the brownstone lighthouse at Sand Island’s northern tip became the first beacon in the Apostles to be automated. The building sat vacant until 1925, when Gert, making use of her father’s political connections, secured permission to lease the lighthouse, at a rate of $25.00 per year.

Gert standing in front of the Sand Island light
Gert standing in front of the Sand Island light

For the next eighteen years, Gert made the Sand Island Lighthouse her summer home. As a schoolteacher, she was able to spend the full summer on the island, and she invested substantial time, effort, and funds into maintaining the old building. As she later boasted, “My living there has kept the place from becoming a ruin.” 

Gert at the Sand Island lighthouse
Gert at the Sand Island lighthouse
Gert's brother "Bun" on the lighthouse roof
Gert’s brother “Bun” on the lighthouse roof
The Sand Island Fresnel lens
The Sand Island Fresnel lens

 In her raffish (if somewhat theatrical) version of a sailor’s “cracker jack” uniform and white sailor hat, accompanied by her police dog Sandy, she was the first female “keeper” of the lighthouse as well as the face of a new generation of young and empowered females. 

Gert and her dog Sandy
Gert and her dog Sandy
Excerpt of 1926 Minneapolis Journal article about Gert
Excerpt of 1926 Minneapolis Journal article about Gert

The Apostle Islands are full of beauty, adventure, and wildlife; they also have a rich and varied history. This summer, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the park, we will be exploring that history with a little help from some friends: large, nearly life-sized standing poster board images of lighthouse keepers and sailors and ship captains and island lovers and more. Each one will ask you a question, present a mystery of island history, and offer you a QR code to explore the answer.

So look for the cardboard cutouts popping up in local shops, on the ferry, in the parks, all over town, and when you find them, introduce yourself, look for the question, and explore the answer to one of the History Mysteries of the Apostle Islands. Then join us at Friendsoftheapostleislands.org to support the protection of the islands, their beauty, their adventure, their wildlife, and their history.

History Mystery: Emmanuel Luick photos document life of the Sand Island community and beyond

Emmanuel Luick served as the head lighthouse keeper at the Sand Island Lighthouse from 1892 through 1920 when it was the first Apostle Islands lighthouse to become automated. 

Sand island Light
Sand Island Lighthouse

Along with his duties in tending the light, Luick also documented life at the light station in his log book.  For a while he allowed his first wife, Ella, to assume this duty. Ella Luick was 16 when she married 27-year-old Luick in 1895.  She took over the light keeper’s log, treating it like a diary, recording her boredom and dissatisfaction. Then in May 1905, Ella Luick jotted down that she’s boarding a boat. She sailed away and was never heard from again — divorce papers were delivered the next year. Luick later remarried and had four children with his second wife; two of whom died on the island.

When he wasn’t tending the Sand Island Lighthouse in the Apostle Islands, Emmanuel Luick apparently had some time on his hands.  So he snapped pictures. Lots of them. In fact, during the winter in the early 1900s when Lake Superior iced up and the lighthouses closed, Luick operated a photo studio out of his Iron River home.

Boats and cabins at a fishing camp in East Bay on Sand Island.
Boats and cabins at a fishing camp in East Bay on Sand Island. Courtesy Bayfield Heritage Association

Though some of his pictures survived in family albums passed down through generations, pretty much all of the thousands of photos he took disappeared. No one knew what happened to them.  Recently, however, the consulting historian of the Apostle Islands Historic Preservation Conservancy found a treasure trove of 246 of Luick’s original glass plate negatives available on eBay. Many of the photos, taken from 1900 to 1906, document life at the lighthouse, on Sand Island, and in the Bayfield area. 

Commercial fishermen mending nets at the Booth Fishery twine shed in Bayfield
Commercial fishermen mending nets at the Booth Fishery twine shed in Bayfield. Courtesy Bayfield Heritage Association

The photos offer glimpses into a long bygone era when men cut ice blocks in the winter to keep their fish from spoiling in warmer months, fishermen spent a lot of time repairing their nets, and farmers tended their flocks on Sand Island.

Farm hand feeds the chickens at the Louis Moe farm on Sand Island at East Bay. Courtesy Bayfield Heritage Association
Cutting ice to fill the Booth Fishery ice house on the Bayfield waterfront
Cutting ice to fill the Booth Fishery ice house on the Bayfield waterfront. Courtesy Bayfield Heritage Association

One photo shows Luick and assistant lighthouse keeper Fred Hudson pushing two wheelbarrows filled with clothes and blankets. It looks like they’re hauling laundry, but a darker tale emerged.  It turns out that the clothing and bedding were from the steamship Sevona, which sank near Sand Island in 1905 with the loss of seven lives.  Luick also managed to take a 1905-style “selfie” of himself in his light keeper’s uniform standing on a boulder at the edge of the lake.

Luick and assistant keeper Fred Hudson with wheelbarrows filled with clothing from the shipwreck Sevona. Courtesy Bayfield Heritage Association

After the light on Sand Island was automated, Luick became the keeper at the Grand Marais, Minnesota lighthouse from 1921 to 1936.  He died in 1947 in Superior, Wisconsin.

Emmanuel Luick in his keeper's uniform on the rocks below the Sand Island Light.
Emmanuel Luick in his keeper’s uniform on the rocks below the Sand Island Light. Courtesy Bayfield Heritage Association

The Apostle Islands are full of beauty, adventure, and wildlife; they also have a rich and varied history. This summer, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the park, we will be exploring that history with a little help from some friends: large, nearly life-sized standing poster board images of lighthouse keepers and sailors and ship captains and island lovers and more. Each one will ask you a question, present a mystery of island history, and offer you a QR code to explore the answer.

So look for the cardboard cutouts popping up in local shops, on the ferry, in the parks, all over town, and when you find them, introduce yourself, look for the question, and explore the answer to one of the History Mysteries of the Apostle Islands. Then join us at Friendsoftheapostleislands.org to support the protection of the islands, their beauty, their adventure, their wildlife, and their history.

A day at the beach: Friends volunteers help to restore the Lakeshore’s sandscapes

“Shhhhhhhhhh ….” Next to the drumbeat of the waves, it is the music of the wind dancing in the beach grass that is the quintessential sound along the beaches of the Apostle Islands. Waving and swirling, the grasses of a sandscape are the dance of the lake breezes. And, they are also a delicate, fragile, and all-too-often disturbed ecosystem. Recently, a cadre of volunteers from Friends of the Apostle Islands assisted the National Park Service with restoration work on the sandscapes of Raspberry Island and Little Sand Bay in an effort to protect these beautiful and important places for visitors and wildlife alike.

Planting at Little Sand Bay – Jeff Rennicke photographs

“The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore has the highest quality and most diverse collection of sandscapes in the Great Lakes,” said Julie Van Stappen of the National Park Service. “These sandscapes are dynamic, vital for several species of wildlife and breeding birds, and very popular with visitors.”

Sometimes, too popular. Beach grasses have very shallow roots and often grow in easily disturbed soil. Compaction from too much foot traffic can kill the plants. To combat the resulting erosion, the park has been doing sandscape restoration using a combination of floating boardwalks to direct visitor traffic and volunteer efforts to restore and replenish the fragile beach grasses in eroded areas.

Late last summer, seeds and plant materials were gathered from healthy park sandscapes and grown over the winter by a greenhouse that specializes in native plants. In late May, trays and trays of the healthy plants were transported back to the park where a team of NPS staff and Friends volunteers replanted 4,000 plugs of beach grass (Ammophila breviligulata) and hairgrass (Deschampsia flexuosa) on damaged areas of sandscape at Little Sand Bay and Raspberry Island.

Friends volunteers
Friends volunteers and NPS staffers line up for shoreline restoration – Jeff Rennicke photograph

“The replanted grasses are critical in stabilizing the shifting sands of these sandscapes. Their shallow roots help to hold the soil in place.”

Julie Van Stappen, National park service

Using trowels, strong backs, and a love for these delicate places, 17 Friends volunteers and five NPS staff members carefully replanted each plug in areas identified by park biologists.

Planting on the Raspberry Island sand spit – Bob Jauch photographs

Raspberry Island planting zones

“We all enjoy the beaches and sandscapes of the Apostles,” said Jill Rennicke, Co-Director of Friends of the Apostle Islands and Volunteer Coordinator for this event. “By working with the National Park Service, our volunteers can help ensure that they will be healthy and beautiful for all of us, and for the wildlife of the park for years to come.”

If you would like to volunteer for future projects through the Friends, fill out the form and you will be added to our volunteer email list. We’ll contact you when opportunities to get involved arise.


Jeff Rennicke is Executive Director of the Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. He is also an educator, outdoor adventure travel writer and photographer.