April 20, 2015 02:59 PM
The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is calling a new fee for visiting the ice caves sustainable after it brought in $140,000 this winter, enough to cover the cost of additional staff and equipment.
The $5 fee for visitors age 16 and older was instituted as a cost-recovery measure after a busy 2014 season outstripped the park's budget. That year, an unprecedented 138,000 people visited the ice caves on Lake Superior's south shore during a two-month window in which they were accessible.
The caves were only accessible for nine days in 2015, but 37,800 people still visited during that period.
A portion of the $140,000 in revenue was shared with the National Park Service's national office to administer the program, but the Apostle Islands were still left with $134,700 for local use. The park spent about $95,000 on extra staff and equipment in 2015, including $21,000 worth of equipment that can be used again in future seasons.
Park officials said the surplus this year will allow the park to bring on temporary staff to prepare for the next season and for other visitor services. Some of the money will also help pay for a new bridge over a ravine on the Mainland trail east of Meyers Beach and a new entrance sign on Meyers Road.
Created: April 20, 2015 02:59 PM
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