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News & Comments

A brief roundup of news and updates for HISCFA members.  Your comments are welcomed but if you have any questions it's best to email one of the board members for a more timely response.

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  • December 10, 2019 11:00 AM | Anonymous

    Dear HISCFA Members,

    I would like to inform you about a conversation I had on Tuesday December 3 with Jessica Kines. Jessica is the contact person for the Department of State Police, DSP, who have control over ferry rates. Jessica is new to her position and has only been there for four months. She and her associates are empowered under Act No. 240 and House bill No.4807 to review the rates of water carriers such as Champion Auto Ferry. This legislation was sponsored by then Representative Dan Lauwers, now Senator Lauwers, and was enacted into law in 2017. It is important to recognize that they haven’t been regulating water ferry rates for very long and may not have faced challenges to their approval of rate increases before the current increase of our rates.

    Jessica was very helpful and understanding of our situation. She also freely admits that this is all new to her and the DSP. They recognize that House bill No. 4807 leaves a lot to be desired and greatly favors the carrier. They are however bound to act in manner that follows that bill, they are after all the State Police.

    The items we covered in our conversation included:

    The fact that we are dealing with a private corporation that has a monopoly.

    The fact that we have at this time no alternative means of getting from the mainland to the island and see no chance of one in the near future.

    The fact that we are not involved in rate changes and aren’t made aware of them until after they are approved by the DSP. A very uphill process.

    Our only resort is to appeal these rate increases to the DSP under Sec. 4 of HB 4807. We have been asked to file these complaints with the Attorney Generals office thereby involving another State agency in the process who will also have to become involved and informed.

    Our current rates.

    The increase in those rates both on a dollar basis, $2.00/trip and a percentage basis, 28% for ticket holders and $2.00/trip and 20% for day trippers.

    The impact these new rates would have on our residents and our businesses.

    The dollar increases in addition to the money paid currently for a working family of two: $2 x 30 days x 2 people =$120/mo.

    The fact that many of our island residents are retired and living on a fixed income that doesn’t increase annually at 28%.

    Other rate increases have been made that effect commercial trucking thereby increasing the cost of building and doing business on the island.

    The fact that many of our elderly residents are frequently off the island for routine medical care.

    The condition of the current infrastructure of the docks and boats.

    Only one of two docks are in service on the mainland side and two of three docks on the island side. The third dock on the island side collapsed.

    If the one dock on the mainland side fails, we will have no connection to the mainland.

    There is no schedule of when repairs of the docks will be completed.

    The reduction of load limits and type of vehicles that are permitted to use the ferry.

    The impact these restrictions are having, with no change in site, on ongoing and new construction projects and other services to the island. Trucks are restricted to one rear axle and trailers to no more than two axles.

    I asked if the $2/$2 fair increase could be changed to a $1 increase for ticket book holders and $3 increase for day trippers. Jessica said she would run the idea by her people.

    I asked if she would summarize our discussion since at the time of our conversation I was driving to an appointment and couldn’t take any notes. Jessica said she would do that.

    Jessica offered the following:

    “The Michigan State Police (MSP) reviewed, vetted and approved Champion Auto Ferry’s proposed tariff based on section 460.207 of Act 246. The MSP also completed an onsite evaluation and has required Champion’s to submit a timeline for repairs and will be actively monitoring their progress.”

    I was hoping for more but I understand the situation she is in. The above comments are therefore my recollection of our conversation.

    The good news is that many islanders, in addition to HISFCA have reached out to the DSP, Senator Lauwers and others. We have their attention and I believe, based on other conversations I have had recently, that things will improve. The dialog has begun and the pertinent parties are working on solutions. For now, we are stuck with these increases. If there is a silver lining to this situation it is that these increases will witness to others, who might be interested in providing service to the island, that it will be more feasible for them to do so.

    In the meantime, I urge everyone, to continue to RESPECTFULLY contact our representatives, these are the people we will have to work with in the future to solve our issues. If you choose to do so you may file a formal complaint with the Attorney General’s Office (link below). It is an election year and our 800 members and their families are voters and we have power.

    Respectfully submitted,

    George Covalle, President

  • March 19, 2019 9:00 AM | Anonymous

    This year marks the first annual Harsen’s Island St. Clair Flats Association membership survey.  The objective of the survey was to learn more about members and their households, which will ultimately help the HISCFA board of directors with prioritizing and planning initiatives.

    Who and When:

    The survey was emailed on March 8, 2019 to any active member with whom we have an email address (requested on your membership renewal/application form).  It was sent to 511 total members and only one survey submission per recipient was allowed.  When the survey closed on March 31, a total of 212 surveys had been completed—a 41.5% response rate which exceeded our expectations.  An incentive of entry into a drawing for one free book of ferry tickets was used to encourage participation—178 respondents entered the drawing.  The winner of the drawing for the book of ferry tickets was announced at the April HISCFA meeting.

    We are pleased to report that the survey was a success and the feedback from the respondents has already helped to validate current initiatives and help with planning and thinking about new ones.

    Here are just a few of the highlights:

    Browne’s Field Improvements:

    The majority of those of you that responded to the survey and ranked proposed capital improvements to Browne’s Field validated our long-term plan for building permanent restrooms.  Permanent restrooms were ranked first by over 50% of the respondents.  Over the last year we have begun to earmark funds for this project and, based on your feedback, we will begin fund-raising efforts to help us achieve this goal.

    A walkway around the perimeter of Browne’s Field was another popular proposal for capital improvements and was ranked second by respondents.  This, too, is underway.  Plans for the layout, length/width, and surface material are being discussed and a budget has been established.  Some funds are already set aside for this and fund-raising may take place for this project, as well.

    The Delta News is a Favorite:

    Among the many benefits offered by HISCFA, annual publication The Delta News was the most popular member benefit and was the number one reason why many of you are HISCFA members (80.19%).  This was followed by the “park-and-ride” located at the ferry (50.94%), and the annual Field Day held at Browne’s Field (48.11%).

    Island Life:

    It’s no surprise that “boating” is listed as the number one activity that members are involved in (86.79%).  This is followed by “recreational walking” (65.09%) which supports our initiative of developing a walking path around Browne’s Field.  And again, no surprise, “fishing,” was listed as the third most popular activity (63.68%).  Falling behind these top three were “swimming,” “bicycling,” “kayaking,” “tubing/floats,” and “personal water craft.”  Some of the activities that weren’t listed but were provided by respondents were “bird watching,” “gardening,” “looking for wildlife and watching sunsets.”  We’ll have to add these to our list next year!

    Who’s a Member:

    ·       Over 33% of the survey respondents have been a HISCFA member for more than 20 years.  And 15.57% have been members for 3 years or less.

    ·       Full-time residents made up 45.28% of the respondents; and over 2% of the respondents do not have property or a residence on the Island.

    ·       Both of the water stations maintained and operated by HISCFA are still being used but over 77% of the survey respondents do not rely on either water station.

    ·       Over 59% of the respondents do not have children or grandchildren under the age of 18.

    More surveys in your future:

    You can look forward to mini surveys throughout the year surrounding each HISCFA event.  This will help us stay connected with you and will help us refine and improve our events to better meet the needs of you, your family, and your guests.

    Thank You!

    Thank you to all of you that took the time to provide your valuable feedback.  It will be used throughout the year when we prioritize, develop and plan new initiatives and capital improvements.

  • March 01, 2019 11:00 AM | Anonymous

    The State of Michigan has added new regulations to the National Resources and Environmental Protection Act which took place in March of 2019.  The State strives to keep our waters clean, not only from Asian Car, and mussels but form invasive plants.  Below is a summary of the new regulation.

    In 2019 The Michigan Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (Act 451 of 1994) Park 413 was amended with changes for boaters and anglers that take effect March 21, 2019.  The changes are intended to strengthen protection from Michigan waterways against the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species.


    Prior to the amendment, the law only required that a person not place watercraft or trailers in the water of Michigan if an aquatic plan is attached.  The new law changes require all of the follow prior to transporting any watercraft over land:

    Remove all drain plugs form bilges, ballast tanks and live well.

    Draining all water from live wells and bilges.

    Ensure that the watercraft, trailer and any conveyance used to transport the watercraft or trailer is free of aquatic organisms, including plants.

    Violation of the law is a state civil infraction and can be subject to fines up to $100.


    For anglers, these amendments codify the Michigan DNR’s Fisheries Order 245 regarding the release of bait fish and cut bait, and the release of captured fish:

    A person shall not release baitfish in any water in Michigan.  A person may not use the fish caught as bait or cut bait except in the inland lake, stream, or Great Lake where the fish was caught, or in a connecting waterway of the inland lake, stream, or Great Lake where the fish was caught if the fish could freely move between, the original location of capture and the location of release.

    A person who catches fish other than baitfish in a lake, stream, Great Lake or connecting waterway shall only release the fish in the lake, stream, or Great Lake where the fish was caught.

    Whether purchased or collected, unused baitfish should be disposed of on land or in the trash—NEVER in the water.  Any baitfish an angler collects may be used only in the waters where it was originally collected.

  • January 01, 2019 11:00 AM | Anonymous

    Did you know you can support your Harsen’s Island St. Clair Flats Association (HISCFA) with your Amazon purchases?

    AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon with the same products, prices, and shopping features as The difference is that when you shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of your purchase price of eligible products to the charitable organization of your choice.

    Every item available for purchase on is also available on AmazonSmile ( at the same price. You will see eligible products marked "Eligible for AmazonSmile donation" on their product detail pages.

    For more information about the AmazonSmile program, go to

    More about how it works . . .

    1. Make sure you’re logged in to your Amazon account and then go to; select the HISCFA as your designated charitable organization.
    2. Then shop Amazon like you usually do!
    3. The only difference is that you need to complete your purchase through, for 0.5% of your purchase to automatically go to the HISCFA.

    Making this small change in the way you shop Amazon can make a huge difference.  Between October and December 2018, Amazon donated over $105 MILLION DOLLARS to charitable organizations from Amazon shoppers like you who elected to donate to a charity of their choice using!  

    Judging by the amount of Amazon packages at our tiny Harsen’s Island Post Office every day, your HISCFA could certainly benefit from the Smile Foundation and shoppers like you.

    Please consider setting this up on your account for all your future Amazon purchases.

    Thank you so much for your continued support of HISCFA!

    Happy shopping!

    (Donations are made by the AmazonSmile Foundation and are not tax deductible by you.)

  • January 01, 2018 9:30 AM | Anonymous

    HISCFA Director and Treasurer Harold Stieber is representing Harsen's Island residents with the Great Lakes Islands Coalition to come up with Island solutions.

    The Great Lakes contain the largest, most diverse collection of freshwater islands in the world. Of the 32,000 islands in the Great Lakes, nearly twenty continue to host communities of people, typically a mix of year-round residents, seasonal transplants, and transient visitors. With no permanent connection to the mainland, they are literally defined and shaped by water. They are the quintessential “Great Lakes coastal community.”

    While present-day island communities are uniquely distinct from one another in character, traditions, and personality, they share in common a number of complex, inter-related challenges. These include access to services and quality education, supporting a diversified economy, and managing natural, cultural, and historical resources across public and private boundaries. Underlying these challenges is the fact that island demographics are changing at great speed and dimension (size, age, seasonality, ownership, economic status, etc.). For these small and remote places, the relative impact of a rapidly changing society can be enormous.

    Further, awareness and understanding of “island life” is limited among many mainland decision-makers, such as governments, private organizations, and the general public. In a world driven by information, there are few, if any, programs or data sets specific to most Great Lakes islands – either individually or as a collective – by which to accurately inform management decisions and drive strategic actions related to social, economic, environmental, and other challenges.

    Luckily, these challenges are hurdles, not unmovable barriers. In fact, some island communities have already independently developed their own “island solutions to island challenges.” Interestingly, island communities are finding they often have more in common with one another than to their adjacent mainland. Thus, there is great value in islanders learning from other islanders about best practices that work, as well as those that don’t.

    Major impediments to more systematically implementing more solutions on more islands are a lack of capacity and limited access to information. To help address these needs, a new collaboration – the “Great Lakes Islands Coalition” – is forming between multiple island communities with support from off-island partner organizations. Currently under development, it will be built off existing models of island collaboration in places elsewhere but will be tailored to meet the unique needs of the Great Lakes region.

    A Coalition will foster broader island-to-island coordination and dialogue, including regular sharing of tools and ideas. Participating islands will benefit from access to timely and accurate information, technical experts and decision-makers. Ultimately, any implementation would occur on individual islands at their own discretion and pace. By coming together, island voices would be elevated and amplified, resulting in greater awareness and understanding on the mainland.

    Great Lakes islands are uniquely poised to turn their challenges into opportunities. This past September, representatives from Harsen’s Island were asked to represent our island in the inaugural Islands Summit titled “Laying the Foundation for a Great Lakes Island Coalition”. It was organized by a little known, independent State of Michigan department, the Office of the Great Lakes, which works to protect and restore our state’s waters. It reports directly to the governor and, for budget purposes only, shows up under the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

    In attendance were 72 participants from 11 Great Lakes islands including islands from Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and Canada. The meeting was held at the Central Michigan University Biological Station on Beaver Island in Lake Michigan where attendees overwhelmingly supported the solidification of the foundation of the Great Lakes Island Coalition that was established here. The overall sentiment was a renewed conviction that we can accomplish things as a group that we can’t do individually. Subsequent topical meetings will be held throughout the coming year on a webinar basis coordinated by the OGL so that groups with interest in a particular topic would be able to participate without involving groups to which the topic is not relevant.

    A gathering of all island groups will be planned every year.

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Harsen's Island Transportation Authority (HITA)

Contrary to popular belief, HISCFA is not part of HITA.  Our only involvement with HITA is to nominate three volunteers to the Clay Township Supervisor.  Nominees that are appointed to HITA by Clay Twp. have a 3-year term.  Please let the HISCFA President know if you're interested in being nominated to HITA.

Nomination to HITA



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