Ecohydrologic Evaluation of Removing the Higgins Lake-Level Control Structure
Higgins Lake, in Roscommon County, has experienced significant shoreline erosion, some of which has been attributed to high water caused by a lake-level control structure (dam) at lake’s outlet into the Cut River. The erosion has been severe enough to concern the Higgins Lake Property Owners Association, and the structure’s operations are non-compliant with the provisions of the Muskegon River Watershed Plan (O’Neal 2003). The effects of the erosion and accompanying disturbance to the lake bottom, surrounding vegetation, animal species, and neighboring aquatic habitats have had little study since the construction of a permanent dam in 1936. This is despite the fact that the lake and its environs provide significant fishing, recreational and economic benefits to the citizens of Michigan. For these reasons, we conducted a study of the area that included hydrology, wildlife, vegetation, and weather to provide a scientific basis to help local decision makers alleviate the erosion, minimize ecosystem impacts, and maximize recreational benefits from the lake.