Nearly $2 Million Donation To Help Fund Solar Energy System At Isle Royale National Park

A donation of $1.8 million from a concessions program is moving Isle Royale National Park closer to the more than $7 million needed to build a solar power facility on the island in Lake Superior.

Isle Royale is noted for its wild beauty, pristine waters, fisheries, rich history, and hiking trails. But behind the scenes, there is a large supply chain of gasoline and diesel that fuels boats and generators used to create electricity and pump water for visitors and employees at the island. All of the fossil fuels create a large carbon foot print and potential environmental hazard from hauling fuels.

Rock Harbor is the major portal on the northeast end of Isle Royale and houses 60 lodge rooms, 20 housekeeping cottages, and slips for up to 12 boats.

In conjunction with this $1.8 million donation, the park is using an innovative Department of Energy program to combine donations and payments over time to finance alternative energy programs. This $1.8 million donation is the second donation from the National Parks Concession Inc. Board, bringing their total contribution for energy-saving projects to $2.246 million.

The total conversion costs for three developed sites at Isle Royale (Rock Harbor, Windigo, and Mott Island) are estimated at over $7 million. In conjunction, the park is spending more than $1 million for energy saving measures, bringing the project half-way to completion.

The National Parks Concession Inc. Board oversees a trust that was formed when NPCI, a non-profit concessionaire operating from the 1930’s until 2002, ceased operations and sold their assets to Forever Resorts, LLC – headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona. The NPCI board manages a trust with assets left from the sale. Their charter allows these funds to be used at any of the following national parks: Isle Royale, Big Bend, Olympic, Mammoth Cave, and Blue Ridge Parkway. NPCI’s contributions have improved visitor services and employee housing at all of these parks.

The National Parks of Lake Superior Foundation, headquartered in Marquette, Michigan, is working with Isle Royale National Park to find matching funds and material donations to complete the project at the remaining two sites, Windigo and Mott Island.