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Great Lakes Article:

Apostle Islands would benefit from federal wilderness designation
Superior Daily Telegram

The plan to designate much of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore as federal wilderness would be the next logical step in preserving this remarkable area by Bayfield. The National Park Service plan would set aside 33,500 acres of islands in the park, or 80 percent of the land, as protected wilderness. It hasn’t been controversial, perhaps because little would change in the operation of the park.

Yet it’s important because the current restrictions would become permanent. For example, the existing ban on snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles would come permanent under a federal wilderness designation, according to Bob Krumenaker, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore’s superintendent. But boaters would be able to use the waters of Lake Superior around the islands just like they can now.

The public comment period lasts until Oct. 17, so there’s plenty of time for residents to give their opinion to the Park Service, or join Gov. Jim Doyle and former U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson in encouraging Congress to approve the plan. Nelson, who started Earth Day, said these rare islands should be "preserved in their natural state," and this plan offers the chance to do that.

Northland residents and community groups who want another way to help take care of the islands will get their chance on Saturday. It’s National Public Lands Day, and volunteers are invited to participate in beach cleanups at three beaches in the Apostle Islands as part of this year’s International Coastal Cleanup. The coastal cleanup is billed as the world’s largest single-day volunteer effort to clean trash and debris from beaches, waterways and reefs, last year drawing 400,000 people in 100 countries.

From 10 a.m. to noon, cleanup projects will be led by park rangers at Little Sand Bay Beach and Meyers Beach on the mainland and at Julian Bay Beach on Stockton Island. Apostle Islands’ beaches are generally pretty clean, but they can be cleaner, according to the National Park Service. Volunteers will learn about the geology and natural history of the beaches during the cleanup. Anyone interested in taking part should report to Little Sandy Bay Visitor Center (13 miles northwest of Bayfield), the Meyers Beach parking lot (at the end of Meyers Road, 18 miles west of Bayfield off Wisconsin Highway 13), or the Presque Isle Visitor Center on Stockton Island by 10 a.m. For information, contact Neil Howk at (715) 779-3397, ext. 302.

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