Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Apostle Islands NLAbout the Park

Set in Lake Superior, the largest and most pristine of the Great Lakes, the Apostle Islands archipelago includes 22 islands and is located in far northwestern Wisconsin, off the Bayfield Peninsula. Twenty-one of these islands, and a 12-mile segment along the shore of Wisconsin’s north coast, comprise the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.  The beauty of these islands is enhanced by the area’s geology. Colorful precambrian sandstone have eroded into interesting cliff formations, including sea caves, and there is a highly diverse collection of sandscapes, including sandspits, cuspate forelands, tombolos, a barrier spit, and numerous beaches. These sandscapes are among the most pristine left in the Great Lakes region.  Global climate change will impact Apostle Islands National Lakeshore’s different ecosystems to varying degrees.  The major impact on Apostle Islands is that lake levels and temperatures will likely vary significantly from historical averages—the consequences of which may include impaired species habitat and recreation opportunities. 

Emissions Profile

In 2006, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore's Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions totaled 672 metric tons of carbon equivalent (MTCE).  The largest source of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore's emissions is Transportation totaling 628 MTCE.  The majority of this contribution is from vessels, as one would expect from a water-based national park.  This section of emissions can be further subdivided by looking at the different sectors of watercraft: NPS vessels (33 MTCE), concession vessels (85 MTCE); and visitor vessels (483 MTCE).

The graph below, taken from our Action Plan, shows our baseline emissions in 2006 broken down into sectors:


Apostle Islands National Lakeshore has committed to lowering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 12.5% below 2006 levels by 2012 through implementing emission mitigation actions. 

Example Apostle Island National Lakeshore Planned Actions

Planned actions fall under 2 strategies.  These strategies and specific examples of actions include:

1) Increase energy and travel efficiency, reduce waste, increase lake-travel efficiency, and promoting climate-friendly recreation.

  • Stabilize or reduce the size of the park’s vehicle fleet.  By 2012, replace at least 3 older vehicles with the most energy efficient vehicles that will accomplish the mission.  Continually re-evaluate deployment of vehicles to assure we are using the right vehicle for the right job in the right place.
  • Acquire at least one “smart car” or similar super high efficiency vehicle for employee use between work sites or for local business.
  • Integrate LEED Gold certification into new building construction planning.
  • Raise biodiesel percentage on all diesel equipment, once warranties end, to as high percentage as will work well for each engine.
  • Research LED lighting for use on islands where principal energy source is solar power.

2) Increase Climate Change Education and Outreach

  • Develop annual climate change/sustainability training for all staff.
  • Assure all employees have a sustainability performance expectation in their annual performance plans.
  • Work with regional concessions staff to make sure the next Request for Proposals for the concessions contract requires the operator to be even more environmentally friendly and to educate visitors about those actions (e.g., display signage, etc.).
  • Provide information on sustainability on concession cruise boats.
  • Incorporate Do Your Part materials including kiosk, poster and brochures into park materials.

To read more about what we are doing at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore about Climate Change, check out our Action Plan