Gaylord Nelson Wilderness Area

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Gaylord Nelson Source: [3]

In 2004, 35,000 acres of land were set aside by the Federal Government in dedication to former Senator, Wisconsin Governor and environmental activist Gaylord Nelson. The land that was set aside is located in northwestern Wisconsin and is taken care of by the employees of the National Park Service. In total, 80% of the land that is considered the Apostle Islands are part of this Gaylord Nelson Wilderness Area. This land pays homage to the hard work that was put in by Gaylord to help preserve the natural areas of Wisconsin. [1]

Background of Gaylord Nelson

Gaylord Nelson wad born in Clear Lake, WI in 1916. Nelson received his higher education from the University of San Jose, as well as the University of Wisconsin Madison. After his time serving in the Pacific campaigns during World War Two, Gaylord came back to practice law. In 1948, Gaylord began his political career and went on to be a Wisconsin governor, a United States Senator as well as making huge strides in the environmental movement. [2] Keeping environment needs first and foremost, Gaylord Nelson was progressive in his actions while in office and strived to push the importance of conservation efforts. Nelson gives a lot of his political drive to "fighting" fellow Wisconsin politician Bob La Follette, make way for many policy changes focused on the environment. [3] After passing away at the age of eighty nine in 2005, Gaylord Nelson achieved great things in the environmental movement. He left many great things behind, including some good thoughts such as "We must recognize that we're all part of a web of life around the world. Anytime you extinguish a species, the consequences are serious." [4]

Accomplishments of Gaylord Nelson

Coined the "Father of Earth Day", Gaylord Nelson has many accomplishments under his belt. Becoming a Senator in 1962, the accomplishments started to roll in, beginning with becoming head environmentalist in Senate. Some of the most influential acts that came by Nelson included the well known Wilderness Act, National Trails Act, the National Environmental Education Act and the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, to name a few. [5] Gaylord Nelson also sponsored the legislation that went on to create the wilderness areas now called the Apostle Islands in northern Wisconsin, on Lake Superior.

Apostle Island

Consisting of twenty two islands got its start in 1970. The goal of the of the Apostle Islands was, and still to this day is, to preserve the natural beauty of the islands as well as preserving the shorelines of northwestern Wisconsin. [6] The Apostle Islands, before European contact, were home to the Anishinaabe people; the Ojibwe community in specific. The islands served as a place to live, hunt and practice traditional ways of living, because of the great respect that was directed towards all natural things, the land was never stripped or taken advantage of. After the forced relocation in the 1800's, the area's richness was depleted. Since the National Park Service has taken over the area, there have been efforts made to ensure that the land is preserved to the best of our ability. [7]

Things to do when visiting the Wilderness area

When visiting the Apostle Islands, there are numerous activities to participate in. Some activities include; camping, hunting/trapping, kayaking, hiking, fishing, sailing/boating and many other activities to get in touch with the natural. The area is home to the largest collection of complete historic lighthouses, the area is said to have the most secure marinas. During the winter months, there are many popular ice caves that draw in visitors from around the world. [8]


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  • Merchant, Carolyn. The Columbia Guide to American Environmental History. New York: Columbia University Press, 2002. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed November 24, 2015).
  • Ostergren, Robert C. and Thomas R. Vale. Wisconsin Land and Life. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1997. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed November 24, 2015).

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