A grant request from Gerrish Township for $23,000 to help combat swimmer’s itch in Higgins Lake was recently approved by the Higgins Lake Foundation. This grant will fund a limited action plan that will take place this spring.
This grant is for specific and limited activity, using the US Fish & Wildlife permit Gerrish Township obtained for the lethal taking of 25 female merganser ducks. The permit also allows for oiling of eggs in the nest boxes. Gerrish Township, in accordance with the permit, is authorized to start this activity at ice out and must complete all activities by May 22. This is the first time that a program involving wildlife control professionals, establishment of nesting boxes and the oiling of eggs will take place on Higgins Lake.
The projected cost for these specific activities is estimated to be $28,000. Gerrish Township has earmarked $5,000 toward the project, which includes the cost of materials and labor to construct multiple nesting boxes, boat fuel, and man hours.
Funding for additional activity proposed will be sought by Gerrish Township elsewhere.
Fish & Wildlife does not grant lethal permits easily. The application included data that was collected for over a year to provide verification of the extent of the swimmer’s itch problem at Higgins Lake.
Information at this time indicates that all efforts to combat swimmer’s itch will be long term and slow to produce results. This is a first step, and this activity should support and enhance the work that may continue by Gerrish Township or others. It is hoped that this is an initial step in moving toward a coordinated joint effort in the community with reasonable costs and realistic expectations.
It should be understood by all that the work of any program carried out in 2015 will not likely show significant impacts this summer. Any plan will take several years and likely require much more funding to make it viable in the future. It is the hope of the HLF Board that this initial contribution will assist in getting the program underway, but it will be up to the Township (or others) to develop an adequate funding source for future years’ work.