Traverse City Record-Eagle

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June 22, 2014

Ferry to Power Island approved

TRAVERSE CITY — A newly approved ferry will help adventure seekers explore a remote, yet well-known area in the Grand Traverse region.

Grand Traverse County’s Parks and Recreation Commission approved ferry transportation between the Bowers Harbor Boat Launch and Power Island.

“This is really a special place and it’s right smack-dab in the middle of our county,” said Alisa Kroupa, president of the parks commission. “We are really lucky to have an island among our county parks and it’s important for everyone to have access to all of our parks.”

Power Island is a 200-acre island on Grand Traverse Bay that is maintained as a park by Grand Traverse County. The island has a dock, swimming beach, hiking trails and four rustic campsites.

The ferry idea was part of a business plan for improving Power Island. Getting permits, approvals, signatures, and a certified captain to manage the boat took some time. The business plan also calls for expanding camping areas by adding five more to Power Island and five to the nearby Bassett Island, which is attached by an isthmus.

The ferry boat captain, Fred Tank, also serves as Power Island’s park ranger. A retired biology teacher, Tank and his wife have been the only residents of the island during the summer months for over 28 years.

The county Parks and Recreation department already owned the boat, which is used for accessing the island as needed. Kroupa said the ferry is not intended to be a moneymaking venture and funds earned from passenger fees are meant to cover the cost of gas.

“We’re excited about the idea,” Kroupa said. “This is all still new. We’ll do a trial run this year and see what the response is, see if there are changes we need to make.” She said the county will never develop the island; it will be preserved for nature lovers to enjoy.

The boat transfers up to six guests and the fee is $30 for the first rider of a group and $15 for each additional rider. Interested travelers can contact the Grand Traverse County Parks and Recreation to make ferry reservations.

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