Joel Gunnlaugsson, chair of the Washington Island Town Board, Door County Board of Supervisors member and ferry captain for the Washington Island Ferry Line, got the chance to tell the state about his unique island life in the 2013 Great Lakes Chronicle.
There are no fast food restaurants, chain motels, big box stores or movie theaters, so people make their own entertainment. People come to relax and commune with nature. Outdoor activities abound from hunting and fishing to kayaking and swimming.
He also described the island’s history, geology, economy, climate and culture, while tipping his hat to the island farmers who supply 800 acres of wheat for Capital Brewery’s Island Wheat Ale.
But it’s hard to talk about life on Washington Island without talking about low water. Gunnlaugsson also described how low water levels troubled the Washington Island ferry last winter and the future Detroit Harbor channel dredging project.
He ends on a poignant, uplifting note:
Washington Island continues to work on geographic constraints—insularity of island life, diversifying the economy and preserving natural features and biodiversity. By their very nature, islands are isolated and sensitive to change. These attributes make them refuges for natural heritage and biological diversity and thus have high conservation value. While the island’s features are subject to threats from human activity, we view these challenges as opportunities.
The Great Lakes Chronicle is an annual publication put out by the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program that covers a variety of Great Lakes issues. Other topics covered low water levels, tribal land rights on Lake Superior, beach health and other Great Lakes issues.
Grants awarded by the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program are also listed by county. Door County received a total of $116,750 for four projects: the Lakeshore Park expansion in Jacksonport, the Sturgeon Bay West Waterfront Redevelopment project, writing a conservation master plan for The Land Trust’s Bay Shore Blufflands property and a engineering evaluation for Plum Island waterside structures.