Plan keeps Apostle Islands wild
The National Park Service is proposing official federal
wilderness designation for about 80 percent of the Apostle
Islands National Lakeshore.
By John Myers
Duluth News Tribune
About 80 percent of the land in the Apostle Islands National
Lakeshore would be declared official federal wilderness
under a draft plan announced Monday by the National Park
The decision was made as part of the Wilderness Study
and Environmental Impact Statement conducted over the
past two years by the National Park Service.
The agency had considered five different wilderness plans,
announced a year ago, ranging from no wilderness to nearly
all wilderness on the 42,160 acres of islands in the park.
After more than a year of public hearings, meetings and
nearly 7,000 public comments, the Park Service opted to
recommend 33,500 acres be set aside as wilderness.
The park's mainland unit, areas around docks and visitor
facilities and historic sites, such as lighthouses, all
have been excluded from wilderness under the plan -- as
have all of Sand, Basswood and Long Islands.
The plan won't affect the park's waters or boats moving
Several public hearings are planned in coming weeks in
Duluth, St. Paul and several locations near the park,
although no dates have yet been set. The draft plan is
open to public comments until Oct. 17. After that, the
National Park Service and Bush administration would have
to recommend the plan to Congress, which must act before
the land is designated wilderness.
Park officials say the overwhelming majority of public
comments favored some wilderness designation
"What we resoundingly heard is that most folks would
like the park to remain as it is today," said Bob
Krumenaker, park superintendent. "Our preferred alternative
does exactly that -- it preserves the present character
of the islands for future generations and it preserves
the manner in which visitors experience them as well."
Official wilderness designations would ban motorized
vehicles from those land areas as well as many mechanical
devices. Because much of the lakeshore already is managed
as wilderness to protect wilderness qualities until a
decision is made, Park Service officials say they expect
little change in the use of the lakeshore.
Still, some powerboat enthusiasts are leery of the federal
action. Others questioned the value of the $200,000 wilderness
"It's already wilderness. I don't know what the
changes will do," said Carol Miller of Iron River,
an avid powerboater who, with her husband, Cal, had opposed
wilderness designation. "It doesn't change any of
the dock areas, which is what we were most concerned about.
That's good. But it sure seems like a waste of money."
About 200,000 people visit the park each year; 75,000
get to the park's islands, which are reachable only by
boat. About 29,000 of those travel on tour boats while
the rest visit by private motorboat, sailboat, kayak or
other device. Kayaking in the area has quadrupled since
For more information see www.nps.gov/apis/wstudy.htm
or write: Wilderness study, Route 1, Box 4, Bayfield,
WI 54814 or call Jim Nepstad at (715) 779-3397.