Sustainability and the Apostles


The National Park Service is responsible for the stewardship of natural and cultural resources and management of visitor amenities and park infrastructure. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (park) has made significant strides in fostering sustainable practices and promoting innovative solutions to this challenge. In 2005, National Geographic Traveler Magazine named the park our nation's most sustainable national park. In 2005 and 2006, the governments of four of the park's gateway communities (the cities of Ashland, Washburn, and Bayfield and the town of Bayfield) each passed resolutions committing themselves to the goal of sustainability and following The Natural Step - a sustainability framework adopted by communities and organizations around the world.

Currently, environmental management and sustainability initiatives are conducted within the framework of the park's Integrated Environmental Plan (IEP), which fulfills the requirements of the NPS Environmental Management System (EMS) model and the Office of Management and Budget EMS Scorecard. The IEP is an adaptive management system guided by the park's visions and goals for the future. It is fueled by the legal reporting requirements and voluntary sustainability initiatives of the park and managed by staff in clearly defined roles and responsibilities. It proactively addresses park sustainability, providing a long-term decision-making framework.

The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Sustainability Commitment strives for "maximum sensitivity and protection for the park's (and the planet's) natural and cultural resources, doing so in a way that is economically sensible and considers the short and the long term impacts of our decisions".

The following list outlines some recent actions to park policies, operations, and every day practices that represent the park's commitment to sustainability:

Energy Use
  • Photovoltaic energy systems installed on off-grid housing on the islands and ovens replaced with small stovetop burners to reduce use of propane and promote sustainable seasonal employee living.
  • Replaced lighting in Park Service buildings with LED, energy-efficient products.
  • Enacted park-wide Power Management of Electronic Equipment policy to promote more efficient energy use by park staff while at work.
  • Increased fleet efficiency through the purchase of more efficient vehicle and boat vessels.
  • Created vehicle and boat vessel scorecards that provide reminders for more efficient handling and allow users to select the most appropriate vehicle and vessel choice for particular trips.
Education and Outreach
  • Specialty training opportunities for staff offered on topics related to climate change and sustainability.
  • Integration of climate change topics and sustainability into interpretive and educational programs.
  • Update of current climate change displays at Stockton Island in summer of 2011.
  • Climate change intern hired during summer 2011 to provide interpretive programs at the park's partner location, Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland, WI.
Leaders in Region and Nation
  • Member of Travel Green Wisconsin .
  • Member of Wisconsin Initiative of Climate Change Initiative (WICCI)
  • Active group of staff within the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Sustainability Subcommittee
  • Implementation of innovative new environmental performance and sustainability management system through the Integrated Environmental Plan (IEP)
Awards and Honors
  • In 2005, National Geographic Traveler Magazine named APIS the nation's most sustainable national park.
  • Recipient of 2010 Great Lakes Restorations Initiative (GLRI) grant to fund Climate Change Educator position.
  • Recipient of Unilever United States Foundation, Inc. 2010 National Parks grant for environmental stewardship and health & well-being.

What Can You Do?

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is working hard to reduce its carbon footprint through energy efficient practices and integrating climate-friendly practices into administration, planning and workforce culture.

Everyone can be a part of the solution by taking important steps toward a more sustainable future today. Small steps can lead us to great places when we take them together - one at a time.

Resources are listed below to give you some ideas on how to get started:

Last updated: September 23, 2021

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Bayfield , WI 54814


715 779-3397

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