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Isle Royale opening delayed indefinitely

HOUGHTON — Isle Royale National Park is delaying its season opening indefinitely, the park announced Wednesday. 

The move was based on guidance from the White House and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as the Michigan executive orders. The park also considered guidance it had been receiving on the safety of shared housing used by employees during the summer, said Liz Valencia, public information officer for Isle Royale.  

Isle Royale, which normally opens in mid-April, had initially delayed its opening to June 15. 

“We were looking at a lot of the different factors and decided the June 15th opening date didn’t look realistic anymore,” she said. “We’re still evaluating all the time when it would be safe to open.”

The Ranger III, Voyageur II, Sea Hunter III, and Isle Royale Queen IV ferries will not transport visitors this summer. Rock Harbor Lodge, including overnight lodging, dining, marina services, gift shops and stores, will also stay closed for the season. 

Seaplane service should still be available when the park reopens, Valencia said. Visitors will also be able to take their own craft to the island. 

Even before reopening, Lake Superior waters inside park boundaries are open for fishing during the day. Boaters must be self-sufficient. The main island and its facilities are closed, and no fuel is available. Overnight use is prohibited. 

Reopening is being considered for late June or early July. Factors being considered include: the availability of personal protective equipment; the number of EMS-qualified park staff; the availability of emergency support services from other agencies; the status of medical facilities in local communities; social distancing requirements; state directives; and guidance on park housing.  

There will be fewer projects taking place on the island this year, and fewer staff, Valencia said.

There have been no discussions about a date beyond which the park would not open, Valencia said. 

“Even if we only opened for a month, that would still be a month where boaters could go out there and backpackers can make the trip,” she said. 

Updates on Isle Royale National Park opening will be posted on www.nps.gov/isro/planyourvisit/conditions.htm. Updates about NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus.htm. 

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