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A Storied Wilderness

rewilding the Apostle Islands

By James W. Feldman; Foreword by William Cronon

Publication Year: 2011

The Apostle Islands are a solitary place of natural beauty that rise out of Lake Superior. Now designated a wilderness area, efforts are underway to "rewild" land that has been shaped and reshaped by people for centuries. This book tells the story of how we came to equate human activity exclusively with the loss of nature and wilderness when in reality all our wildernesses are products of complicated interactions between human and natural processes.

Published by: University of Washington Press


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pp. vii

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Foreword | Irrevocable Lessons of Vanishing Fields by William Cronon

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pp. ix-xiii

On December 8, 2004, President George W. Bush signed congressional legislation creating the Gaylord Nelson Wilderness Area in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore of Lake Superior. Named for the Wisconsin senator who is best known as the founder of Earth Day, the new wilderness area represented the fulfillment of a decades-old dream. ...

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pp. xv-xvii

In my early years of graduate school, as I cast about for a topic on which I suspected I would spend close to a decade (or, as it turns out, a little more), I knew that I wanted a place-based subject that met two requirements. It needed to be about a place to which I had a personal connection, and it had to connect to a current environmental issue. ...

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Introduction | Stories in the Wilderness

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pp. 3-21

In 2005, a panel of experts gathered by National Geographic made a surprising pick as their choice for the most appealing national park in the United States: Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Many people have never heard of the Apostle Islands, let alone traveled to far-northern Wisconsin to see them firsthand. ...

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1 | Lines in the Forest

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pp. 22-58

As its name suggests, Outer Island is hard to reach. Twenty-four miles from Bayfield at its closest point, Outer is the most vulnerable of the Apostle Islands to Lake Superior’s violent weather. It stands, in the words of one writer, “like a clenched fist directly in the path of Superior’s worst fury.” ...

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2 | Creating a Legible Fishery

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pp. 59-90

In April 1997, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) brokered a controversial deal with the fishermen of Lake Superior. State managers cut the number of commercial fishing licenses for lake trout by more than half—from twenty-one to ten. The trout quota for the commercial fishery dropped from 15,000 to 7,140 per year. ...

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3 | Consuming the Islands

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pp. 91-118

For over twenty-five years in the mid-twentieth century, Grace and Laurie Nourse ran one of the most unusual and authentic tourist operations in the Apostle Islands, a restaurant and resort called the Rocky Island Air Haven. Laurie Nourse or his son captained an excursion boat that departed from Bayfield. ...

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4 | Sand Island Stories

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pp. 119-148

Most visitors to Sand Island disembark at a grassy clearing at the base of a long dock in the middle of the island’s east bay. From the clearing, visitors have a choice of three trails. The northernmost trail winds through a small field of wildflowers and a remnant pine forest on its way to the tip of the island and a stunning view of the open lake. ...

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5 | A Tale of Two Parks: Rewilding the Islands, 1929–1970

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pp. 149-190

In August 1970, Kristine Jensch wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times, complaining bitterly about the prospect of losing her family’s Sand Island property to the national lakeshore proposed for the Apostle Islands. She regarded the whole project as unfair and unnecessary, ...

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6 | Rewilding and the Manager’s Dilemma

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pp. 191-224

With the creation of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in 1970, the National Park Service inherited a rich and evocative landscape. The islands boasted lonely beaches, mysterious sea caves, and bays that could protect boats small and large from the powerful moods of Lake Superior. Island forests contained some of the best remnant stands of old-growth forest in the western Great Lakes. ...

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Epilogue | Reading Legible Landscapes

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pp. 225-234

In November 2004, Congress designated nearly 80 percent of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore as the Gaylord Nelson Wilderness. The name of the new wilderness area recognized Nelson’s crucial role in the establishment of the lakeshore and the protection of the islands’ environments....


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pp. 235-284

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 285-306


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pp. 307-328

E-ISBN-13: 9780295802978
Print-ISBN-13: 9780295990965

Publication Year: 2011