Grand Marais likely to host seaplane service to Isle Royale
Isle Royale National Park is considering a proposal by Isle Royale Seaplanes (IRS) to offer seaplance service from Grand Marais to Isle Royale. The company 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 as an additional destination. The second aircraft, a Cessna 206 nearly identical to the existing seaplane, offering the service would be based in Houghton County, Michigan.
The additional flight service would take place in and out of the Cook County Seaplane Base in Grand Marais. The Seaplane Base currently support seaplane arrivals and departures on two designated runways on Devil Track Lake. 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. 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.
The new service would be authorized on a one or two year trial basis through a Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) with Isle Royale Seaplanes (IRS). After the trial period, either party could 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 to assess and document the potential increase in aircraft noise. Data collected would be compared to soundscape data collected in 2013 and 2016.
This proposal is open for public review and comment on any concerns relative to the additional seaplane service. The comment period concludes on March 17, 2017.
Comments may be submitted online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov