Compendium Determinations 2017

B. Supertintendent's Compendium

In accordance with regulations and the delegated authority provided in Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations (“36 CFR”), Chapter 1, Parts 1-7, authorized by Title 16 United States Code, Section 3, the following provisions apply to all lands and waters administered by the National Park Service (NPS), within the boundaries of Isle Royale National Park. Unless otherwise stated, these regulatory provisions apply in addition to the requirements contained in 36 CFR, Chapter 1, Parts 1-7.

Written determinations that explain the reasoning behind the Superintendent’s use of discretionary authority, as required by Section 1.5(c), appear in Section IV of this document.

Signed June 30, 2017 by Superintendent Phyllis Green
 
 

Introduction

These Determinations cover the new rule changes to the previous Isle Royale National Park Superintendent’s Compendium approved and in use since the year 2015.

Special Statement about Determinations

Rules identified in Determinations 1, 4 and 15 have been in place since the fall of 2007. These rules were promulgated by Superintendent’s order amending the year 2000 Superintendent’s Compendium. There has not been signification disruption to visitor use patterns and public reaction has been supportive.


Determinations 1, 4, 9 and 15 are based on similar backgrounds and science. These are interim restrictions based on emerging threats to the natural resources of Isle Royale National Park. These restrictions are needed until permanent rules can be put into place, anticipated within 5 years. This 5 year window addresses the issue of duration as outlined in 36 CFR 1.5 (3)(b) . Scientific analysis is on going to better understand the potential threats, as are the development of response plans and prevention methods.

National Park Service ballast water rule making needs to coincide with U.S. Coast Guard rule making to create a level of consistency across Lake Superior. A closure on the release of all untreated ballast water within (and near) Isle Royale National Park waters, would provide fuller protection and needs to be promulgated by the U.S. Coast Guard. The National Park Service would follow suite shortly thereafter. Rules allowing partial protection or voluntary compliance would be ineffective.

Every new outbreak of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) is reported to, and is considered a disease of concern by the OIE International Aquatic Animal Health Code (OIE 2004). Because of the concern for this disease most countries initiate quarantine and disinfectant actions when it appears. OIE updates their regulatory code annually at http//www.oie.int/eng/normes/fcode/fcode2004/en_acode.htm.

These restrictions are similar in scope to voluntary rules that are present throughout Michigan and promulgated by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Therefore visitors are being asked to perform a function or task that they are already familiar with, addressing the issue of a “signification alteration to public use pattern” as outlined in 36 CFR 1.5 (3) (b).


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Public Use Limits

  1. Public Use Limits - Decontamination of vessels and aircraft

Reason for Restriction
The purpose of this emergency restriction is to avoid severe damage to park resources and catastrophic loss of recreational opportunities that would occur from the introduction and spread of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) into Isle Royale National Park via the use of infected bait fish or parts of infected fish by recreational anglers, either directly via bait fishing, or through transport via water, mud, etc. on aircraft, recreational vessels and transported to the park via the Ranger III.

Background
The VHS virus, an exotic fish pathogen, was diagnosed for the first time ever in the Great Lakes in 2005 though it is now known to have been present since 2003 through diagnosis of archived fish samples. It has been responsible for causing extensive fish kills in Lake Huron, Lake St. Clair, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence and Detroit Rivers, and inland lakes in Wisconsin, lower Michigan, New York, and Ontario, in 2005 and 2006. The virus is classified as Type I – IV with unique strains or isolates occurring within each type. The virus found in the Great Lakes is classified as Type IV-b and appears to have mutated from the marine isolate known previously from the Atlantic coast of North America. In addition to the North American Atlantic Coast and Great Lakes isolate, other isolates occur on the North American Pacific Coast and in Europe and Asia. European isolates have caused massive mortalities in rainbow trout production facilities and in wild populations of brown trout. Several other species have also been affected in Europe. VHS has been recently discovered the Lake Superior Basin according to academic and government researchers.

VHS has the potential to be more devastating environmentally and ecologically than the sea lamprey, which caused the extirpation of lake trout in all Great Lakes except Lake Superior and a few locations in Lake Huron. The damage from sea lamprey has cost hundreds of millions of dollars in losses to fisheries throughout the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Fishery Commission and sea lamprey control offices invest approximately $18 million annually to control populations of this species. Other invasive species such as zebra and quagga mussels have been responsible for massive ecological change in the basin and damage to community infrastructure such as clogging water intake pipes, water filtration and electric plants. The associated control costs from this damage have been estimated at $100 million per year by New York Sea Grant (Pimentel et al 2000). Estimated costs to control all aquatic non-indigenous species in the United States are approximately $2.5 billion per year (Pimentel et al 2000).

Most significant about this virus’s invasion of the Great Lakes is that it has impacted species of fish across several taxonomic families, including some that were not known to be affected by other variants of the virus. Because newly impacted species continue to be found, it is still not known how many families of fish could ultimately be affected. However, the VHS virus is known to affect nearly fifty species of fish including trout and other salmonids and it has been suspected of causing outbreaks in lake trout. The Great Lakes variant has caused die offs in at least 12 species of fish in the Great Lakes including commercially and recreationally important species such as northern pike, walleye, smallmouth bass, and yellow perch. Other species that have been affected by the virus include freshwater drum, white bass, black crappie, muskellunge and bluegill (USDA 2006). Species that are known to be carriers of the virus in the Great Lakes include Chinook salmon, rock bass, silver and shorthead redhorse, northern pike, burbot, spottail shiners and emerald shiners (Wisconsin Sea Grant fact sheet). Species such as lake trout and brook trout have been shown to be experimentally susceptible to VHS, (Skall et al 2005) and whitefish (Coregonus sp.) in Europe have been infected and show signs of infection such as septicaemic hemorrhages (Meier et al 1986).

Preliminary investigations of the Great Lakes variety of VHS show that it does cause moderate mortality in salmonids, including lake trout, Chinook salmon and steelhead (rainbow trout) (USDA 2006).

This is the first time that a virus has affected so many different fish species from so many fish families in the Great Lakes, and because European variants impact many species of salmonids (the family which includes trout, salmon, whitefish and char), the potential for the Great Lakes strain to have impacts on lake trout and several other species is very high.

The VHS virus is readily transmissible to fish of all ages, and survivors of infection can become lifelong carriers that shed virus with urine and sex products. Fish of any age are susceptible to infection, and epizootic losses occur at temperatures of 3° to 12°C (37-54 °F) (mortality is greatest at 3° to 5°C (37-41°F). The optimum temperature for virus replication is 14-15°C; virus yield is reduced at 6°C, and little replication occurs above 20°C. (Fish Disease Leaflet 83, USGS Leetown Science Center ) Because the virus replicates and is particularly virulent at cooler temperatures, Lake Superior could provide an ideal environment for large scale replication and many species found in the lake could be susceptible.

Because of the susceptibility of lake trout, the documented infections of whitefish and the cooler water temperatures of Lake Superior, potential impacts to Lake Superior species, and in particular Isle Royale populations, could be catastrophic.

Isle Royale is a unique refuge for Lake Trout with approximately 12 morphological variants across 3 genetically distinct phenotypes found around the island. Lake trout is the most common sport fish sought at Isle Royale, and a limited assessment fishery using commercial fishing techniques is still supported by populations at and around the island. Nearly 10,000 lake trout were harvested by sport anglers at Isle Royale during a survey conducted in 1998. Lake Superior is the only Great Lake where lake trout populations are considered to be rehabilitated following population crashes in the mid 20th century due to sea lamprey invasions. Isle Royale is considered as one of only a few locations where lake trout stocks still maintain a high level of their original genetic composition. Any loss of stocks from the island would be a loss of genetic material and valuable information that would compromise ongoing efforts to restore lake trout populations in the other Great Lakes.

The potential impact to lake trout and the need for additional protection from potential disease transmission via the use of fish and fish parts for recreational bait fishing could be catastrophic for Isle Royale populations. Isle Royale has an extensive network of reefs across its waters, and lake trout utilize these to congregate for spawning and feeding. Lake trout begin spawning in late August, and spawning continues into October and November. Congregating for feeding or because of other stimuli has also been observed in other seasons, but it is not as well understood at the island. When lake trout spawn at Isle Royale, fish move from a more dispersed state into dense congregations at spawning reefs around the island. Infection of one or a few fish that move into spawning congregations could potentially spread the virus to an entire stock of fish in a short amount of time. After spawning, fish tend to re-disperse around the island and will often mix with fish of other stocks. This re-dispersal could quickly spread the virus to all stocks around the island.

Introduction and spread of VHS also would cause catastrophic loss of recreational fishing opportunities at Isle Royale National Park by decimating other important recreation and commercial fish stocks. In addition to lake trout, species such as coaster brook trout, lake whitefish, round whitefish (menominee), cisco (lake herring) including the rare shortjaw cisco and other coregonids could be impacted. These are all either commercially or recreationally important species throughout Lake Superior. In addition to their commercial importance, the coregonids are a primary and important food base for lake trout, brook trout and other predator species and loss of these species would affect not only Isle Royale but the entire Lake Superior food web.

The coaster brook trout populations from Isle Royale are two of only a few populations in the Great Lakes that are considered to be self-sustaining. Fish from these populations have been used to create brood stocks to aid in restoration efforts in other parts of the lake. Additionally, coaster brook trout were recently petitioned for listing under the Federal Endangered Species Act. Because it provides a federally-owned haven for the survival of the species, Isle Royale would likely be designated as Critical Habitat for species protection and recovery by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should coaster brook trout be federally-listed as threatened or endangered. Catch and release only restrictions have already been enacted at all of Isle Royale to protect this species. Any impact to the Isle Royale populations could severely compromise the long term sustainability of these populations and lake-wide restoration efforts.

Current Protective Measures
The use of fish, fish parts, or roe (fish eggs) for recreational bait fishing is a means by which the disease can be transmitted to new populations of fish. Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ontario have all established regulations to reduce the risk of VHS transmission via bait (New York has voluntary rules.) The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has placed restrictions on movement of fish (including bait species) throughout the Great Lakes States.

The State of Michigan has enacted new regulations for sale, collection, and use of bait fish in its waters due to the presence of VHS in some waters and the threat of its occurrence in currently uncontaminated waters. The State of Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) regulates sport and commercial fishing within Isle Royale’s Lake Superior waters. The MDNR has divided its waters into 3 Management Areas: VHS-Positive; VHS Surveillance; or VHS-Free. It uses these zones, plus the Prohibited Species list (a list of species which have been shown to be susceptible to VHS) as the foundation for its new regulations. For prohibited species, the new regulations require that bait dealers either certify that their bait is virus-free, or provide a receipt to buyers indicating in which Management Area(s) the bait can be used. Receipts must be kept by anglers and presented upon request during the fishing trip and are valid for 7 days. Uncertified bait cannot be used in a Management Area that is less contaminated than that in which it was collected or reared. The same restrictions apply for personal collection of wild bait which is on the Prohibited Species List. For those species not on the list, there are no VHS restrictions.

“Clean boat” initiatives have been established by state resource agencies in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, in an effort to reduce the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS), including VHS. Inadvertent transport via mud, weeds, and water on recreational boats moving among water-bodies has been suspected in several instances of new outbreaks of exotic species. Boats transported on the Ranger III also have the potential to carry AIS to the park.

The park has already enacted emergency regulations to protect its waters from the potential release of VHS via commercial vessel ballast water. Ballast water, the use of bait fish, and recreational boats containing water or sediments from contaminated waters are all considered potentially high risk vectors in the NPS and Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa’s 2008 Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia Prevention and Response Plan (Plan).

Why Current Restrictive Measures Will Not Suffice
1. The potential impacts of a VHS outbreak could be catastrophic for Isle Royale’s genetically distinct near-shore populations of coaster brook trout and its populations of genetically diverse lake trout. The park’s vulnerability may be increased because lake trout congregate to spawn at reefs within park waters, thereby creating an atmosphere where the disease could be rapidly transmitted to many fish that will then disperse (as well as to eggs during fertilization.) See background section above for details.

2. The State of Michigan’s current VHS regulations require that boaters drain all water from live wells and bilges upon leaving any body of water. While this addresses standing water in boats, it does not address the potential for sediments, fish remains, etc that may still be in a boat between fishing trips. VHS transported via sediments on recreational boats (anchors, etc) is identified as a moderate vector risk in the Plan. Therefore, the park is requiring that recreational boats are decontaminated prior to loading onto the Ranger III. Decontamination options are hot water wash, or extended drying on land. All decontamination activities should be conducted where the runoff cannot enter surface water. No washing, rinsing or decontamination will be allowed at the park headquarters.

3. Restrictive, park-specific measures to prevent the introduction of VHS by human-associated vectors may prove effective because the park is isolated from non-park user groups that do not fall under NPS jurisdiction. The park shares no adjacent shorelines and is not located near heavily-used state or provincial sites. Therefore, the most likely transmission sources to the park are those that specifically travel to or through the park, and therefore can be effectively regulated to reduce risk of VHS contamination.

4. Though there has been a ground swell of support for voluntary disinfection and treatment outside NPS jurisdictions, these programs are not mandatory. Dr James Winton, USGS expert has said “As you are aware, invasive species including important pathogens of aquatic animals represent a substantial threat to the Great Lakes ecosystem”

5. NPS is on record with USCG rule-making that the current USCG rules relating to the release of ballast using the words "avoid" are inadequate to protect park resources. The Parks without shipping lanes have placed a complete prohibition within Park waters using compendium authority, and ISRO, having a designated shipping lanes and a ship that routinely has to discharge ballast within Park waters, used Michigan State prohibitions/standards for salt water vessels for all ships (salt and fresh) transiting Park waters to increase Park protection until USCG rules are finalized to NPS satisfaction.


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Public Use Limits

2. Public Use Limits - Use of Electronic Devices, Generators, and other Mechanical Devices

Reason for Restriction
This action implements specific provisions of the park’s GMP/FEIS, which was approved by a Record of Decision, signed on May 11, 1999, by the Midwest Regional Director of the National Park Service. This action helps protect the natural quiet and wilderness values sought by most Isle Royale visitors. It reduces the impact of electronic and mechanical noise on visitors camping in or otherwise using Wilderness and/or non-developed areas of the park. The action promotes a quality visitor experience by providing relatively tranquil, natural marine and/or wilderness surroundings consistent with the values enunciated by the Wilderness Act, Park Purpose Statements, and other applicable law and policy.

3. Public Use Limits - Use of a Permanently Installed Onboard Generator

Reason for Restriction
This action implements specific provisions of the park’s GMP/FEIS, which was approved by a Record of Decision, signed on May 11, 1999, by the Midwest Regional Director of the National Park Service. All of the listed docks are located close to primitive campgrounds. A generator operated at these docks would be clearly audible in the adjacent campgrounds. This action helps protect the natural quiet and wilderness values sought by most Isle Royale visitors. It reduces the impact of mechanical noise on visitors camping in or otherwise using Wilderness and/or non-developed areas of the park. The action promotes a quality visitor experience by providing relatively tranquil, natural marine surroundings.


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Public Use Limits, Fishing

4. Public Use Limits – Fishing - Lake Superior Bait Restriction
Reason for Restriction
The purpose of this emergency restriction is to avoid severe damage to park resources and catastrophic loss of recreational opportunities that would occur from the introduction and spread of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) into Isle Royale National Park via the use of infected bait fish or parts of infected fish by recreational anglers, either directly via bait fishing, or through transport via water, mud, etc on recreational boats transported to the park via the Ranger III.

Background
See Note 1 background statement

Current Protective Measures
The use of fish, fish parts, or roe (fish eggs) for recreational bait fishing is a means by which the disease can be transmitted to new populations of fish. Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ontario have all established regulations to reduce the risk of VHS transmission via bait (New York has voluntary rules.) The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has placed restrictions on movement of fish (including bait species) throughout the Great Lakes States.

The State of Michigan has enacted new regulations for sale, collection, and use of bait fish in its waters due to the presence of VHS in some waters and the threat of its occurrence in currently uncontaminated waters. The State of Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) regulates sport and commercial fishing within Isle Royale’s Lake Superior waters. The MDNR has divided its waters into 3 Management Areas: VHS-Positive; VHS Surveillance; or VHS-Free. It uses these zones, plus the Prohibited Species list (a list of species which have been shown to be susceptible to VHS) as the foundation for its new regulations. For prohibited species, the new regulations require that bait dealers either certify that their bait is virus-free, or provide a receipt to buyers indicating in which Management Area(s) the bait can be used. Receipts must be kept by anglers and presented upon request during the fishing trip and are valid for 7 days. Uncertified bait cannot be used in a Management Area that is less contaminated than that in which it was collected or reared. The same restrictions apply for personal collection of wild bait which is on the Prohibited Species List. For those species not on the list, there are no VHS restrictions.

“Clean boat” initiatives have been established by state resource agencies in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, in an effort to reduce the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS), including VHS. Inadvertent transport via mud, weeds, and water on recreational boats moving among waterbodies has been suspected in several instances of new outbreaks of exotic species. Boats transported on the Ranger III also have the potential to carry AIS to the park.

The park has already enacted emergency regulations to protect its waters from the potential release of VHS via commercial vessel ballast water. Ballast water, the use of bait fish, and recreational boats containing water or sediments from contaminated waters are all considered potentially high risk vectors in the NPS and Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa’s 2008 Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia Prevention and Response Plan (Plan).

Why Current Restrictive Measures Will Not Suffice
1. The MDNR’s 2008 bait fish regulations will not provide adequate protection from the potential spread of VHS for the following reasons:
  • The regulations rely on accurate species identification of fish parts and roe.
  • There is no effective way to prevent anglers from combining bait from different sources
after purchase or detect when it has occurred.
  • Management Area boundaries include natural barriers to fish passage on specific
tributaries that may not be readily known by anglers or bait dealers trying to define which
areas they collected bait fish and which management area(s) those fish can be used.
  • There is no effective way to enforce wild bait collection restriction except in those cases
where a given bait species is known not to occur within a specific Management Area (minority of cases.)
  • The State of Michigan’s Management Areas do not extend to other Great Lake states or
Canada, and bait use is being regulated differently in different jurisdictions.
  • In addition to the above, an Isle Royale limitation is that many anglers come directly to
Isle Royale from MN, WI, and Canada. Purchase of certified bait or bait from a Michigan-licensed dealer is not possible/feasible. Also, some angler trips are longer than 7 days, making their bait supply unusable and no ready source for buying new bait.
  • The potential VHS-positive water sources for bait fish and fish parts increase because
Isle Royale’s visitor base is from several states and Canada.

2. Staff knowledge indicates that a minimum of 20% of Lake Superior anglers at Isle Royale may use real fish bait. In addition, preliminary results of an informal poll in 2008 by the Isle Royale Boaters Association of its members show that as many as 43% of its members may use real bait for a portion of their Isle Royale fishing trips. A 1998 survey of Lake Superior boat anglers at Isle Royale determined that 19,340 hours (+/- 5,356) of fishing effort by non-charter boat anglers occurred from June through August (Lockwood et al, 2001.) Fishing at Isle Royale is a primary attraction for visitors; many come to Isle Royale primarily to fish for lake trout.

3. The potential impacts of a VHS outbreak could be catastrophic for Isle Royale’s genetically distinct near-shore populations of coaster brook trout and its populations of genetically diverse lake trout. The park’s vulnerability may be increased because lake trout congregate to spawn at reefs within park waters, thereby creating an atmosphere where the disease could be rapidly transmitted to many fish that will then disperse (as well as to eggs during fertilization.) See Background section above for details.

4. Restrictive, park-specific measures to prevent the introduction of VHS by human-associated vectors may prove effective because the park is isolated from non-park user groups that do not fall under NPS jurisdiction. The park shares no adjacent shorelines and is not located near heavily-used state or provincial sites. Therefore, the most likely transmission sources to the park are those that specifically travel to or through the park, and therefore can be effectively regulated to reduce risk of VHS contamination.

5. The park is considering the option to provide a frozen bait supply for anglers. If feasible, the park could obtain Lake Superior basin-caught bait from species not on the Prohibited List and would complete the certification process for it (as an extra measure of protection; this is not required for non-Prohibited List species), and would give limited amounts to anglers to use as starter bait as a way to reduce the need to bring in bait from outside the park. This provides an extra measure of protection while providing for the additional inconvenience due to the new regulations.


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Public Use Limits

5. Public Use Limits – Fishing - Brook Trout

Reason for the Restriction
The National Park Service has adopted recreational fishery management policies which reflect resource protection and lower harvest and consumption of the fishery resource. At least one park fish species, the coaster brook trout, is rare and annual surveys show extremely low population numbers. Isle Royale National Park is home to two genetic variants of coaster brook trout. These are believed to be some of the last viable native coaster populations in the Great Lakes. Ongoing research efforts are underway at Isle Royale, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine life history requirements, and genetic variations among populations and within the species Salvelinus fontinalis. It is believed that, in part, historic fishing practices at Isle Royale have resulted in depressed population numbers. Currently, the low numbers and the desire by anglers to catch and keep “trophy” fish (often the most viable breeding stock) have combined to threaten the viability of the 2 known strains at the park. This restriction is being enacted to protect the remaining fish until research provides more reliable information on which to base management actions.

Why Less Restrictive Measures Will Not Suffice
The coaster brook trout population is currently at the point where continued harvest may cause local extinction of the species. In 1994, the park reduced the allowable daily possession limit to 2 fish, with no more than one over 12 inches, and a minimum size of 7 inches. Subsequent surveys through 2004 did not show a significant increase in numbers, and suggested that long-term viability may be in jeopardy. This restriction is considered an interim measure, until research provides definitive answers regarding coaster population viability, genetic diversity, and minimum life history requirements. Recent survey indicates a slight rebound in population, indicating the measures are at least a neutral to positive contribution in managing the population. The State of Michigan has implemented a “catch and release” designation for coasters in the park’s Lake Superior waters, again reflecting resource agencies’ concerns over the very low populations along the Lake Superior shoreline. Isle Royale is over 99% federally-designated Wilderness, which carries a strong resource protection mandate, both for the resources themselves, and to maintain them for future generations to experience and enjoy.


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Public Use Limits

6. Public Use Limits – Fishing - Rainbow Trout

Reason for Restriction
Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) are a non-native Pacific Coast species believed to have been introduced into the Great Lakes in the 1870s (Mills et al, 1993). State stocking programs for rainbow trout and steelhead sport fishing in Michigan began in the 1920s, and stocking continues today (MDNR website, 2007). Isle Royale waters contain both rainbow trout and steelhead (the anadromous form) as a result of Great Lakes stocking efforts. Rainbow trout utilize the same spawning streams as native brook trout and anadromous coaster brook trout at Isle Royale. One of the limiting factors for coaster brook trout viability at Isle Royale is suitable spawning habitat. Rainbow trout compete for limited spawning habitat and food for fry and fingerlings in the streams, and may also prey on brook trout fingerlings.

The park is allowing anglers to continue to take rainbow trout and steelhead from its streams while at the same time protecting native brook trout/coasters by closing the season for rainbows during coaster/brook trout spawning, and by requiring the same lure, bait, and barbless hook restrictions as it does for brook trout/coasters. (Rainbow trout and brook trout respond to many of the same angling techniques, lures and bait.) A minimum size limit of 7 inches maximizes the opportunity for anglers to take rainbows without jeopardizing brook trout (at smaller than 7 inches, trout species often are hard to distinguish from each other.) Anglers targeting rainbow trout would not be likely to be able to exceed the daily possession limit of five fish, with no more than three fish over 15 inches, however removing a daily possession limit might result in additional fishing pressure in these streams and subsequent unintended impacts to coasters/brook trout.


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Public Use Limits

7. Public Use Limits – Fishing - Lake Trout in Siskiwit Lake

Reason for the Restriction
This is a revision to address an omission in park regulations that was created as a result of the 2005 change in State of Michigan statewide fishing regulations. In the absence of a need for park-specific fishing regulations on its inland lakes and streams, Isle Royale regulations are consistent with the State of Michigan regulations in Keweenaw County. The 2005 revision of state regulations resulted in no clear definition of lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) fishing regulations in Siskiwit Lake (the park’s only inland lake that contains lake trout.)

The interim emergency amendment is a combination of state and park regulations. It allows a daily possession limit of no more than three of any one species of salmonid, which is consistent with the state’s lake trout regulations in the park’s Lake Superior waters. The seasonal dates reflect the park’s operating season. Finally, the requirement to use only artificial lures and bait is the same restriction that is applied to all of the islands inland lakes and streams.

The park is adopting an interim size and possession limit in order to correct this preterition created by the new state regulations until its Fish Management Plan is completed and formal rulemaking occurs to establish new limits on fishing in inland lakes and streams.

Why Less Restrictive Measures Will Not Suffice
The most recent data on the fish community in Siskiwit Lake are from a 1996 survey. The survey showed that Siskiwit Lake contains all 3 haplotypes found in the park’s Lake Superior waters (Burnham-Curtis et al), that the Siskiwit Lake fish were slower-growing than their Lake Superior counterparts, and comparable sized individuals weighed less than lean lake trout in Lake Superior (Kallemeyn, 1998.) Anglers and others have reported that lake trout fished from Siskiwit Lake have a darker coloration than Lake Superior fish. Conflicting opinions exist about whether the park’s inland lake species such as lake trout may have developed into genetically distinct subspecies (Hubbs and Lagler,1944; Bailey and Smith, 1981). Genetic tests will be necessary to determine if speciation has occurred.

The park is in the process of completing a Fish Management Plan that will include a park-wide synopsis of current and historical fish community research, potential and current threats to fish populations, and research, monitoring, and management recommendations.

Due to the uncertainty about genetic variation, and the expected completion of a management plan, the park is choosing to enact temporary restrictions that are consistent with its historic take limits for lake trout on Siskiwit Lake. Current data do not support less restrictive measures (higher daily possession limits), and in the absence of the genetic information, a more current population size estimate, and the results of the fish management plan, less restrictive measures would not be prudent.

Public Notice
Public notice will be given through publication in the park newspaper. Since this is more of a clarification or reiteration of existing regulations, and the number of Siskiwit anglers is small, additional notice to the public is not necessary.


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Public Use Limits

8. Public Use Limits – Fishing - Northern Pike in Inland Lakes

Reason for the Restriction
For many years’ park staff, have observed anglers keeping fish that were undersize as they were unable to catch a legal size fish (currently, minimum legal length at Isle Royale is 24”) to prepare for a backcountry meal. Many fish smaller than 24” are caught and released in an effort to catch a legal northern pike. Though often promoted as a means of sustaining certain populations of fish, catching and releasing fish does cause some injury and can lead to unforeseen impacts to populations. At Isle Royale, anglers that attempt to catch a legal size fish may catch the same fish more than one time, or may catch several while pursuing a fish of 24” or greater. Both of these situations are undesirable. To give backcountry users a greater opportunity to catch and prepare a northern pike, while still protecting the fishery, the lower limit has been removed.

To protect the most productive spawners, an upper limit of possession of 30” was put into place. This allows up to 30” fish to be available for anglers to possess, while protecting the larger fish (over 30”). These larger fish can be caught and released.

Only artificial lures and barbless hooks can be used in all lakes, streams, and creeks. Barbless hooks on all interior lakes reduces damage to caught and released fish within these waters, and simplifies the park fishing regulations for anglers. The term barbless hook applies to the hook being used by the angler at the time of fishing (on the line).

Why Less Restrictive Measures Will Not Suffice
The permissible possession of up to 30” allows anglers the opportunity to keep and prepare a fresh fish meal in a backcountry setting. Larger fish over 30” are often too large to consume and keep fresh in a backcountry setting, and go wasted. These larger fish are also the most productive spawners.

These new regulations include all interior lakes which simplifies regulations park-wide, are easier to understand and follow, and provide angler opportunities while protecting the park’s fishery resources.

Using barbless or pinched hooks is an effective method to reduce damage (to mouth parts, gills, etc.) to fish, while being easy for anglers to comply with, by just pinching the barbs down. This reduced damage is especially important to any fish that doesn’t meet size requirements, or fish just being caught and released. Anglers fishing with barbless hooks have found they are still able to land fish, with the benefit of much quicker and easier releases.

Public Notice
Public notice will be given through publication in “Michigan Fishing Guide”, the park newspaper, park brochures, and on the backcountry permits. Signs will be posted at all visitor centers, ranger stations, and appropriate lakeshore campgrounds announcing the fish regulations.


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Public Use Limits

9. Public Use Limits – Fishing – Lake Herring (cisco) and Whitefish in Inland Lakes

Reason for the Restriction
The National Park Service has adopted recreational fishery management policies which reflect resource protection and lower harvest and consumption of the fishery resource. Several park fish species, including the coaster brook trout (determination 5) and cisco are rare and surveys show extremely low population numbers. The inland lake populations of ciscoes, Coregonus spp., found in Isle Royale National Park are distinct variants of the species. These inland lake populations are distinct enough to warrant separate species or subspecies status. The population found in Siskiwit Lake are known as Siskiwit Lake cisco, Coregonus bartletti (Koelz), and are given full species status. This species is listed as Threatened by the State of Michigan. The remaining populations found in Lake Desor, Lake Richie, and Lake Sargent are variants of Coregonus artedi. This species is also listed as Threatened by the State of Michigan. The population(s) found in Lake Sargent are Lake Superior Cisco, Coregonus artedi arcturus, and Sargent Lake cisco, C. artedi sargenti. Those in Lake Desor are known as Lake Desor cisco, C. artedi sp. and those found in Lake Richie are simply Cisco, C. artedi. Three of these inland lake populations (C. bartletti, C. artedi arcturus, and C. artedi sargenti) are currently thought to be endemic populations. Ongoing research efforts are underway at Isle Royale with researchers from the U.S. Geologic Survey (USGS) to determine the validity of the taxonomic status. Regardless of the taxonomy, recent survey efforts have revealed that the populations of these fish are severely depressed in all inland lakes that they are known to occur. It is believed that, in part, changes in lake temperatures and water quality have resulted in these depressed population numbers. This restriction is being enacted to protect the remaining fish until research provides more reliable information on which to base management actions.

Why Less Restrictive Measures Will Not Suffice
The inland lake populations of cisco are currently at the point where continued harvest may cause local extinction of the species, if has not already occurred. In 1997, USGS researchers documented low population numbers of fish in all four inland lakes where they occur. No management actions were taken at that time. Subsequent surveys in 2010-2011 showed a significant decline in the already exceptionally low population numbers. Extensive survey work in Lake Richie produced no fish and work in Sargent Lake yielded just a single fish, suggesting that long-term viability in these lakes may be in jeopardy. This restriction is considered an interim measure, until research provides definitive answers regarding cisco population viability, genetic diversity, and minimum life history requirements. The State of Michigan has both these species C. bartletti and C. artedi (and all its subspecies) listed as Threatened species. However, the Lake Superior population of C. artedi, is thought to have high enough population density in this lake to allow for recreational fishing of this species in Lake Superior waters. Isle Royale National Park is implementing a “catch and release” designation for ciscoes and whitefish (all Coregonid species) in the park’s inland lake waters, again reflecting resource agencies’ concerns over the very low populations within these lakes. This action does not limit fishing in the Lake Superior waters surrounding Isle Royale. The Lake Superior population of Cisco, C. artedi, is still governed by the State of Michigan fishing regulations for this species. Isle Royale is over 99% federally-designated Wilderness, which carries a strong resource protection mandate, both for the resources themselves, and to maintain them for future generations to experience and enjoy.

Public Notice
Public notice will be given through publication in the park newspaper, the Greenstone. This information will also be transmitted to the State of Michigan, Department of Natural Resources (MIDNR) for inclusion as they see necessary in the State of Michigan fishing regulations. Since the number of cisco anglers is small, additional notice to the public is not necessary.


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Public Use Limits

10. Public Use Limits – Diving - Decontaminating dive gear to prevent spread of AIS/ANS

Reason for Restriction
Discovery of Zebra mussels, non-native Aquatic Invasive/Nuisance Species (AIS/ANS) at Isle Royale in the fall of 2009 necessitates that we begin taking precautions to minimize the spread of Zebra mussels throughout the park or to other parts of the country. This measure is consistent with what the State of Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and other National Parks and State Parks in the Great Lakes region are doing with regard to other methods of transportation and transmission of AIS/ANS.

Isle Royale has a very diverse and important native mussel population and one of the most complete and significant collections of underwater archeological resources in the National Park Service. Both of these resources could be irreversibly devastated by Zebra Mussel infestation.


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Public Use Limits

11. Public Use Limits – General - Transportation of firewood to Isle Royale

Reason for Restriction
This restriction is necessary to prevent the spread of invasive insect species to Isle Royale. The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) was found in Michigan in 2002, Wisconsin in 2008, and Minnesota in 2009. All of the surrounding states in the upper mid-west have enacted some form of state or local quarantine as well as the federal government (7 CFR 301.53-1 through 9). It appears the most likely way for an individual in a non-commercial capacity to aid the spread of the EAB is through the transportation of firewood. One of the primary public education messages the states are pushing is not to transport firewood generally at a county to county level.

Firewood transportation to the island is most likely to occur by private boat. However, staff knowledge indicates few known instances of transportation of firewood in recent history. Given this it seems that very few visitors would be affected by a ban on transportation of firewood to Isle Royale.


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Closures

12. Closures - No person shall knowingly enter within ¼ mile of an active eagle or osprey nest.

Reason for Restriction
Bald Eagles, osprey and other large platform nesting birds can be adversely affected by human activities near nesting sites. *Grub and King (1991) found that pedestrian foot traffic near nests was the most disturbing activity to nesting eagles, even more then gunshots and airplane traffic **Mathisen (1968) also found that distances to nests could affect fledging success. The threshold distance of these birds to human disturbances varies by population. However the distance of ¼ mile set forth in this regulation allows for reasonable human use in the area without significantly impacting the nesting success of these protected raptors.

* Grubb , TG & RM King. 1991. Assessing Human Disturbance of Breeding Bald Eagles with Classification Tree Models , Journal of Wildlife Management, 55(3): 500-51.
** Mathisen, JE 1968. Effects of Human Disturbance on Nesting of Bald Eagles. Journal of Wildlife Management, 32(1):


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Closures

13. Closures - No person shall knowingly enter within ¼ mile of an active wolf den site.

Reason for Restriction
Wolves are intolerant of human activity near den sites in April and May when whelping (birthing) occurs and in the months that follow when humans may be accidently in close proximity to the pups *(Thiel et al 1998). This has a direct management implication in that wolf pups are unable to regulate their body temperatures effectively during the first three weeks of life, are extremely vulnerable and remain close to their mothers near the den site. Alpha female wolves are very protective during this time frame and negative wolf-human interactions can be expected **(Mech et al 1991). Constant disturbance at the den site will prompt the female to move her pups to an alternate den site, possibly exposing the pups to inclement weather creating unnatural stress and mortality. While pup mortality has not been documented due to this behavior, the risk is present. This unnatural level of risk and disturbance is unacceptable to manage these highly intelligent and social animals. In recent years, bold wolf behavior has been seen in the Isle Royale wolf population. Due to the known disturbance effects of humans on wolf dens and rendezvous sites, it is prudent to provide a buffer zone between wolves and humans, especially during the critical time that wolves are raising young. The average mortality rate of wolves on Isle Royale is extremely high with one wolf in four dying each year. The distance of ¼ mile set forth in this regulation allows for reasonable human use in the area without significantly impacting the denning activities of these protected canines’.

* Thiel, RP., Merrill, S & LD Mech. 1998. Tolerance by denning Wolves, Canis lupus, to human disturbance. Canadian Field-Naturalist, 122(2); 340-342.
**Mech, LD, Meier, TJ & JW Burch. 1991. Denali Park Wolf Studies: Implications for Yellowstone. Transactions of the 56th Annual Wildlife & Natural resources Conference


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Other

14. Compressor Use

Reason for Restriction
This action implements specific provisions of the park’s GMP/FEIS, which was approved by a Record of Decision, signed on May 11, 1999, by the Midwest Regional Director of the National Park Service. A compressor (and the generator used to power them) used to fill SCUBA diving tanks produce significant noise and potential disturbance to park visitors. This action helps protect the natural quiet and wilderness values sought by most Isle Royale visitors. It reduces the impact of mechanical noise on visitors camping in or otherwise using Wilderness, non-developed, and/or developed areas of the park. The action promotes a quality visitor experience by providing relatively tranquil, natural marine surroundings. Park zoning in the GMP/FEIS makes specific provision for allowing the operation of a compressor within Developed and Lake Superior Open Water Motorized Zones (sub-parts a-d, above). Sub-part (e) describes three locations where the operation of an on-board compressor has historically been allowed. These locations are not near any park campgrounds or trails. The Superintendent has determined that the occasional use of an on-board compressor at these locations is not likely to disturb other visitors, and is consistent with allowing, subject to restrictions specified herein, the operation of an on-board generator by a vessel at anchor within Quiet/No-Wake Zones.


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Other

15. Quiet / No Wake Zones

Reason for Restriction
This action implements specific provisions of the park’s General Management Plan. Quiet/No Wake Zones were established in the GMP/FEIS for Isle Royale National Park, which was approved by a Record of Decision, signed on May 11, 1999, by the Midwest Regional Director of the National Park Service. The zones are established to protect the natural quiet and wilderness values sought by most Isle Royale visitors, and to reduce wake impacts on park resources and paddlers. The zones promote a quality visitor experience by providing relatively tranquil, natural marine surroundings. Resource condition and character: These zones are located in sheltered Lake Superior harbors and bays where calm water and relative quiet are desirable for safety, resource and visitor experience reasons.


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Other

16. No Discharge of Untreated Ballast Water

This emergency closure is being enacted to protect Isle Royale National Park fish populations from loss due to transmission of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS).

The VHS virus, a fish pathogen and invasive species, was diagnosed for the first time ever in the Great Lakes in 2005 though it is now known to have been present since 2003 through diagnosis of archived fish samples. It has been responsible for causing extensive fish kills in Lake Huron, Lake St. Clair, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River in 2005 and 2006. The virus is classified into multiple types I – IV with unique strains occurring within each type. The virus found in the Great Lakes is classified as Type IV-b and appears to have mutated from the isolate known previously from the Atlantic coast of North America. In addition to the North American Atlantic Coast and Great Lakes isolate, other isolates occur on the North American Pacific Coast and in Europe and Asia. European isolates have caused massive mortalities in rainbow trout production facilities and in wild populations of brown trout.

This latest invasive into the Great Lakes system is not known to have been transported into the Lake Superior Basin yet, although infected ballast may have been discharged at Lake Superior ports (from: Wisconsin DNR fact sheet 2007). It has the potential to be more devastating environmentally and ecologically than the sea lamprey which has cost hundreds of millions of dollars in loss to fisheries and requires an annual investment of approximately $18 million by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and sea lamprey control offices to control populations of this species. Other invasive species such as zebra and quagga mussels have been responsible for massive ecological change in the basin and damage to community infrastructure such as clogging water intake pipes, water filtration and electric plants. The associated control costs from this damage have been estimated at $100 million per year by New York SeaGrant (Pimental et al 2000). Estimated costs to control all aquatic non-indigenous species in the United States are approximately $2.5 billion per year (Pimental et al 2000).

Most significant about this virus’s invasion of the Great Lakes is that it has impacted several species, many which were not known to be affected by other variants of the virus. Since we continue to find newly impacted species, it is still not known how many families of fish could ultimately be affected. However European varieties are known to affect trout and other salmonids and have been suspected in causing outbreaks in lake trout. The Great Lakes variety is currently causing massive die offs in 8 species in the Great Lakes including commercially and recreationally important species such as walleye, smallmouth bass, muskellunge and yellow perch. Other species that have been affected by the virus include freshwater drum, white bass, black crappie and bluegill. Species that are known to be carriers of the virus in the Great Lakes include Chinook salmon, rock bass, silver and shorthead redhorse, northern pike, burbot, spottail shiners and emerald shiners (Wisconsin SeaGrant fact sheet). This is the first time that a virus has affected so many different fish species from so many fish families in the Great Lakes, and because European varieties impact many species of salmonids (the family which includes trout, salmon, whitefish and char), the potential for the Great Lakes variety to have impacts on lake trout and several other species is very high.

The VHS virus is readily transmissible to fish of all ages, and survivors of infection can become lifelong carriers that shed virus with urine and sex products. Fish of any age are susceptible to infection, and epizootic losses occur at temperatures of 3° to 12°C (37-54 °F) (mortality is greatest at 3° to 5°C (37-41 °F). The optimum temperature for virus replication is 14-15°C; virus yield is reduced at 6°C, and little replication occurs above 20°C. (Fish Disease Leaflet 83, USGS Leetown Science Center) Because the virus replicates and is particularly virulent at cooler temperatures, Lake Superior could provide an ideal environment for large scale replication and many species found in the lake could be susceptible.

Because of the possible infection of lake trout and documented infections of coregonids (whitefish, lake herring and related species), potential impacts to Lake Superior species and in particular the Isle Royale fishery could be catastrophic.

Why Less Restrictive Measures Will Not Suffice
Isle Royale is a unique refuge for Lake Trout with approximately 12 phenotypes found around the island. Lake trout is the most common sport fish sought at Isle Royale, and a limited commercial fishery is still supported by populations at and around the island. Nearly 10,000 lake trout were harvested by sport anglers at Isle Royale during a survey conducted in 2000. Lake Superior is the only Great Lake where lake trout populations are considered to be rehabilitated following population crashes in the mid 20th century due to sea lamprey invasions. Isle Royale is considered as one of only a few locations where lake trout stocks still maintain a high level of their original genetic composition. Any loss of stocks from the island would be a loss of genetic material and valuable information that would compromise ongoing efforts to restore lake trout populations in the other Great Lakes.

In addition to several phenotypes of lake trout at Isle Royale, species such as coaster brook trout, lake whitefish, round whitefish (menominee), cisco (lake herring) and other coregonids could be impacted. These are all either commercially or recreationally important species throughout Lake Superior.

In addition to their commercial importance, the coregonids are a primary and important food base for lake trout, brook trout and other predator species and loss of these species affects the entire Lake Superior food web.

The coaster brook trout populations from Isle Royale are two of only a few populations in the Great Lakes that are considered to be self sustaining. Fish from these populations have been used to help restoration efforts in other parts of the lake. Additionally, coaster brook trout were recently petitioned for listing under the Federal Endangered Species Act. Catch and release only restrictions have already been enacted at all of Isle Royale to protect this species. Any impact to the Isle Royale populations could severely compromise the long term sustainability of these populations and lake-wide restoration efforts.

Ships may increase the chances of the virus being spread from infected areas within the Great Lakes. The current voluntary actions of the Lake Carriers Association are insufficient. In short, 2 years from the time VHS was found in Lake St. Claire it has been transported to Lake Huron, Lake Michigan and two inland lakes in Wisconsin. If contaminated ballast water from a lower lake is untreated and discharged within Park waters Isle Royale National Park could record the first impacts in Lake Superior. Target species affected includes brood stocks of coaster brook trout and severely alter the population dynamics and populations on the Island in violation of 36 CFR 2.1(a)(2), “Introducing wildlife, fish or plants, including their reproductive bodies, into a park area ecosystem.”

Movement of the virus can occur by transportation of water or through infected fish. Because movement of fish through the Soo Locks from Lake Huron to Lake Superior is very limited, the most likely way the virus would be spread to Lake Superior is through ballast water. The states of Michigan and Wisconsin have already established stringent regulations on the bait fish industry, and the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has placed restrictions on movement of fish throughout the Great Lakes States. The virus cannot withstand passage through bird digestive tracts, so transport through avian species is not likely.

According to the EPA Ballast water transfers are responsible for 30 % of the invasive species found in the Great Lakes (EPA Website Accessed August 31, 2007 EPA - Great Lakes - Invasive Species). More than one third of Great Lakes invasive species have been introduced in the past 30 years, coinciding with the opening of the St Lawrence Seaway (Great Lakes Information Network Website, Accessed August 31, 2007 - Invasive Species in the Great Lakes Region, #ballast).

Due to the hydrology of the Lakes the virus can be contained if transmission vectors are closed, at an optimum, and at a minimum, its rate of spread to Lake Superior slowed allowing fish species affected to survive and develop immune strains if rapid response is initiated.

By limiting the discharge to only treated ballast water within Park waters, the primary vessel affected is the NPS m/v Ranger III, or future cruise ships where the issue can be addressed during the Special Use process. Recent USCG reports have indicated commercial vessels using the shipping lanes are complying with the closure and enhanced awareness of USCG regulations. Additional restrictions of these vessels may become necessary as the virus spreads.

The action promotes a quality visitor experience by providing relatively tranquil, natural marine and/or wilderness surroundings consistent with the values enunciated by the Wilderness Act, Park Purpose Statements, and other applicable law and policy.


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Other

17. Fruits, nuts, or berries may be gathered by hand for personal use or consumption

Reason for Restriction
The picking of edible berries is to be allowed due to the non-destructive, non-invasive nature of the activity. The consumption limits set forth in the compendium provide adequate protection of the resources to prevent over-use and a decrease in the subsequent availability to these resources in future years. Further, at the currently set limits, sufficient amounts will remain available for wildlife use. Care should be taken to disturb plants as little as possible during all subsistence gathering activities

18. Area Closure for Commercial Kayak Trips

Reason for Restriction
This action implements part of the GMP for Pristine Zones, preventing the establishment of undesignated campsites by repeated use in sensitive resource areas and will help maintain isolated shorelines with outstanding opportunities for solitude.

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Other

19. Docks/Buoys Closed to Camping and Overnight Docking/Mooring

Reason for Restriction
Docks located at Raspberry Island, Edisen Fishery, Passage Island, and the Hidden Lake are located in areas designated for day use only. These areas do not have necessary facilities for overnight use. Closure of the docks to overnight use provides ready access to the docks for transient vessels whose occupants desire to hike the day use trails or visit the interpretive exhibits at these locations. Further, the closures help protect sensitive natural and/or cultural resources at these locations. The north side of the Malone Bay dock, the Ranger III dock at Snug Harbor, the NPS and concession fuel docks, and the docks at Amygdaloid and Mott Islands are closed to provide for the docking needs of NPS vessels used for park administrative and emergency purposes. The America dock is closed to provide interpretation of the historic scene and to provide an inspirational and uninterrupted viewing platform for visitors of the Rock Harbor Channel and surrounding islands. Shipwreck mooring buoys were established solely to secure vessels actively diving or in the process of diving on the shipwreck sites and to protect historic resources.


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Other

20. Food Storage

Reason for Restriction
Each year squirrels chew into backpacks or tents in search of food, and causing property damage to camping gear. Foxes make off with a bag of trash or an unattended/unsecured food sack spreading trash about the backcountry. Each time they get a taste of human food they are rewarded and the behavior continues. In 2007, wolves were being seen more often near campsites though have yet to learn of human food. In an effort to prevent wolf habituation to humans, and decrease that of fox, squirrel, and others we must increase our efforts to keep our food and trash from being accessed by Isle Royale’s wildlife.

21. Boating Operations - Flat Wake Speed

Reason for Restriction
In the interest of safety areas may be designated for flat wake speed. In the occasional circumstance that a vessel is beached restricting vessels in waters within 300’ will help to minimize damage to the beached vessel and be less likely to upset the balance of a person boarding or exiting a beached vessel.


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Other

22. Area Closure to the Launching, Landing or Operating of Unmanned Aircraft

Reason for Restriction
Until the NPS can determine whether specific uses of unmanned aircraft are appropriate and will not cause unacceptable impacts on park resources and values, Isle Royale National Park is closed to the use of these devices. The use of unmanned aircraft within the boundaries of the park has the potential to harm visitors, disturb wildlife, impact viewsheds, cause excessive noise, and interfere with other visitors' enjoyment of the area and may be incompatible with the purposes for which the park was established, including providing those opportunities for recreational, use and experiences which are compatible with the preservation of the park’s wilderness character. A less restrictive approach is not appropriate at this time due to the impacts the devices could potentially present to visitor safety, park values, and to park resources.


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Last updated: September 15, 2017

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Houghton, MI 49931

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