Native American Tribes: Stewarding Land for Parks and Recreation

Frog_bay_beachFrog Bay Tribal National Park. Photo: Grandon Harris

If you’ve been near the Red Cliff Reservation in Wisconsin’s northernmost reaches, you were likely there to visit Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, a stunning collection of 21 small islands in Lake Superior. But as of this summer, you can tack on a visit to an adjacent 89-acre tract of transitional boreal forest and lakefront called the Frog Bay Tribal National Park.

"It's not affiliated with the National Park System, [the name is] the tribe's own designation," says Chad Abel, natural resource administrator for the Red Cliff tribe. "The tribe wanted to call it 'national,' based on conservation values they're instilling at the park and because all of the general public has access to the land, which is somewhat unusual for tribal land."

The park was made possible thanks to the generosity and foresightedness of husband and wife team David and Marjorie Johnson. David, who is in his mid-90s, purchased the tract in the 1980s for $34,000. Since the couple were advancing in age, and because they did not think their children could afford paying the high property taxes, they wanted to ensure the land would remain protected and undeveloped, as it had been since they purchased it.

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