An amphitheater for ranger talks, presentations and other events has been completed at Presque Isle on the Apostle Islands Lakeshore’s Stockton Island.
The new facility, with gently sloping ramps, wide benches and an accessible entrance, will enable visitors with mobility challenges to move more easily from the dock or the accessible campsite already in place on the island, to the contact station and on to the raised-deck amphitheater.
The $55,000 project represents a big step in one of the core commitments of Friends of the Apostle Islands.
“The board made accessibility for all a primary pillar of our organization, Friends Board Chairwoman Erica Peterson said. “We feel it is important that everyone have opportunities to experience this the park.”
The original plans and schematic diagrams for the project were begun several years ago and workers at the Wickcraft Company in Madison created the galvanized steel support structures that lift the platform off the fragile soil below and worked up blueprints for its construction last winter. Delayed a year because of COVID, two National Park Service boats including a 47-foot landing craft began moving construction materials to the site this spring.
On the island, an NPS crew worked over the early summer months putting together what Tommy Richardson, the marine and grounds supervisor for the National Park Service, called “the challenging puzzle” of the amphitheater construction.
“It is everything we wanted and more,” Richardson said during a dedication ceremony. “We are very pleased with how it went together, how it looks, and the process. I am proud of the team who worked on this so hard.”
Given the Ojibwe name maawanji’ i ding — “place where we come together” — by Ojibwe tribal members and NPS staff members Damon Panek and his son Bazile, the spot overlooks the lake through a tapestry of trees. It will become a gathering place for ranger talks, research presentations, children in the Island School program, tribal gatherings, hikers, paddlers, sailors, power boaters and groups of day visitors from the Apostle Island Cruise Service tours. The raised construction also protects an important archaeological site indicating use of this island for more than 5,000 years.
Information provided by Friends of the Apostle Islands.