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Frank A. Douglass Insurance Agency

New Isle Royale superintendent settling in

Denice Swanke’s last stop was Denali National Park in Alaska. She transferred to Isle Royale as superintendent last year and was able to oversee the tail end of seasonal research before the staff returned to the mainland.

Swanke says she is still getting her feet wet, sometimes literally (she spent Wednesday evening kayaking with her husband), but has already taken a liking to her new confines. Speaking with Keweenaw Report from the island, Swanke dismissed the idea that Isle Royale provides challenges unseen in other settings. While having access mostly by boat is a bit of a novelty, a long trek from Park Headquarters to the outer reaches of their jurisdiction is a challenge many superintendents face.

Yellowstone is an example. Maybe a little more comparable is the Grand Canyon. It’s a four-and-a-half or five hour drive from park headquarters on the South Rim over to the park infrastructure on the north rim of the canyon.

Swanke says attendance has been robust so far this season, a theme seen in many outdoor parks at the national and state level since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Isle Royale was open to the public in a very limited manner last year, so there is a mix of people getting in a postponed trip with others making a return visit or discovering the park for the first time as planned here in 2021.

Most restrictions have been relaxed, but capacity limits do exist on the Ranger III, which leaves from the Houghton waterfront. Rock Harbor Lodge is also being careful about the number of guests it hosts at Isle Royale.

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