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Apostle Islands: 'THE PARK IS OPEN'

The national park system, which Wallace Stegner famously called "America's Best Idea," was closed for more than two weeks because of the partial federal government shutdown that ended last week. At the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore on Lake Superior, the islands have re-opened.

The park put out a simple news release Thursday. In capital letters it said simply: THE PARK IS OPEN.

Apostle Islands Resources Manager Julie Van Stappen said she's glad to be back. "First thing, we got staff out to get signs down and open up the gate at Meyer's Beach and make sure we had someone available at the visitors' center, and got back to business."

The shutdown came after the lakeshore's busy season, but Van Stappen says they did lose some money. "It would have cost the park some money related to camping fees, docking fees, parking fees, especially the Meyer's Beach area," she said. "It's really popular, with a beautiful trail this time of year."

Bayfield Mayor Larry MacDonald says he's glad the park is open. Having it closed, he said, didn't set well with visitors. "I know we had guests who were mildly miffed that they were not able to walk the trail at Meyer's Beach. I talked to somebody else who was planning to come up for a last kayak trio on one of those last sunny days and was not able to."

The shutdown didn't set well with MacDonald either, but he demurred when asked to elaborate. "No, no. Most of what I'd like to say I shouldn't say on the air."

The Apostle Islands will have an open house Wednesday to thank the community for its support during the park's shutdown.