Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
The Apostle Islands, located in Lake Superior at the northernmost tip of Wisconsin, have delighted visitors and residents for over a century with a beautiful collection of natural and cultural resources. As part of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore designation in 1970, the National Park Service granted life estates to the remaining land owners. As these life-estate leases expire, local residents and organizations have expressed concerns over the capacity of the National Park Service to fund the continued use and maintenance of the remaining cultural resources on the islands. Within the Apostle Islands, over a hundred structures are listed or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
The National Trust is working to alleviate threats to cultural resources in the National Parks caused by funding constraints and a growing maintenance backlog by developing strategies and case studies to encourage the widespread use of “historic leasing.” Under a historic lease, the lessee agrees to rehabilitate and maintain the leased structure in exchange for certain use rights. Historic leasing is a cost-effective, innovative approach which could reverse the deterioration of cultural resources within the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, and throughout the National Park System.