Return of a Lost Child

The Frog Bay area is an ecologically exceptional stretch of forest and shoreline located along Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin.  It features rare and endangered plants, pristine boreal forest, and a rich abundance of wildlife. Historically important to the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, it’s an area where they once harvested wild rice and much more. Then, being privately owned for over a century, it was inaccessible to the tribe and everyone else.

Frog Bay

Frog Bay along Lake Superior’s Shoreline. Photo by Grandon Harris.

When the property’s most recent owners, the late Dave and Marjorie Johnson, began to contemplate the future of this special place and decided they’d like to ensure its preservation and protection forever, a friend and neighbor put them in touch with their local land trust, Bayfield Regional Conservancy (BRC).

First, BRC reached out to the Red Cliff Tribe to see if they would be interested in owning and stewarding this place that was once theirs—and of course, they were.  But financing the purchase of this land was a major obstacle for them. The Johnsons did not have the means to donate the entire parcel, and neither the tribe nor the land trust could afford to purchase the land outright.

Frog Bay Vegetation. Photo by Grandon Harris.

Frog Bay Vegetation. Photo by Grandon Harris.

Luckily, BRC was able to help the Tribe secure the needed funds through a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coastal Estuarine Land Conservation Program and a few other sources. Brian Bainbridge, Vice Chairman of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, compares the reunion between this place and the Tribe as “the return of a lost child.”

And with the return of this place to the Tribe, it became a gift to us all, as the Frog Bay Tribal National Park.  “We’ve had people from all over the world to come visit” Bainbridge proudly shared.  And this place is more than a new destination spot; it’s an ecological treasure that plays an important role in protecting the water quality of Lake Superior and we will all benefit from this special place for generations to come.

Photo of Wisconsin Coastal Management Program Visit to Frog Bay

Photo of Wisconsin Coastal Management Program Visit to Frog Bay

 

Story by: Sandy Jensen