In early May, five graduates of Northern Michigan University's electrical linesman technician program traveled to Isle Royale National Park with Dr. Carol Hicks, Professor Emeritus at NMU, to repair damaged electrical lines on the island.
The damage occurred in October 2010, when the island was struck by a powerful wind storm. Winds measured at 78 miles per hour by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) blew in off of Lake Superior, with microbursts of up to 92 miles per hour buffeting the island, scattering trees across the trails and campgrounds. The electrical lines service a small developed area—consisting of a visitor's center, ranger station, and water and sewer treatment plant—on the eastern side of the island.
After learning of the situation, Dr. Hicks put together a team of five graduates from NMU's electrical linesman technician program. "20 students wanted to go," laughs Hicks. "I could only take five. We ended up drawing names out of a hat." The volunteers spent two days pulling, splicing, and re-tensioning electrical lines, as well as replacing damaged components in the system. They traveled to and from the island each day by boat.
When the volunteers were done with the electrical line work, says Dr. Hicks, they helped park employees clean the fallen trees, brush, and debris from trails around the island.
"This was a great opportunity for the graduates to gain first-hand experience in the field," says Dr. Hicks.
Click here for more information on Isle Royale National Park.