Seaplane Modification to Include MN Service
Isle Royale National Park is considering a Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) with Isle Royale Seaplanes (IRS) to add an additional seaplane based in Houghton County, MI in 2017 or 2018. IRS has an existing contract with the Park to provide air taxi service from Houghton to Isle Royale through 2025. IRS would continue to offer service between Houghton to designated landing areas in the Park (Windigo, Mott Island, and Tobin Harbor/Rock Harbor Lodge) and add Grand Marais, MN as an additional destination. The purpose of the proposed action is to provide additional transportation options to the island for visitors within the parameters set by the Park's General Management Plan (1998). The need for this determination has arisen due to the request by IRS to provide this service. IRS also stated the second aircraft would provide uninterrupted service to the Park if one aircraft is out of service for maintenance and reduce waiting times when back-logs occur due to weather.
Currently, the Cook County Seaplane Base in Grand Marais supports seaplane arrivals on two designated runways on Devil Track Lake. The second seaplane would be a Cessna 206 nearly identical to the existing seaplane. Depending on weather and demand, IRS currently provides up to five flights a day with a maximum of 20 people entering and leaving the island. The second aircraft could double that amount to 40 people a day.
A one to two year trial period for the second aircraft would be authorized under a CUA. After the trial period, either party may choose to end the additional Minnesota service, a CUA may be reissued, or the existing contract may be amended. The CUA would include flight pattern and altitude restrictions to limit impacts to visitors. Soundscape monitoring equipment would be placed on the island and compared to 2013 and 2016 data.
IRS proposes the following prices for Grand Marais Service
- Grand Marais to Tobin Harbor Round-Trip $380
- Grand Marais to Tobin Harbor One-Way $260
- Grand Marais to Windigo Round-Trip $290
- Grand Marais to Windigo One-Way $200
Comments can be made by clicking on the "Open for Comment" link at the left side of the page and selecting the document and then clicking "Comment Now" button. You may also mail or hand-deliver your written comments to Superintendent Phyllis Green, Isle Royale National Park, ISRO Seaplane, 800 East Lakeshore Drive, Houghton, Michigan 49931-1896. Comments will be accepted through March 17, 2017.