On July 11, 2014, the Higgins Lake Foundation (HLF), Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and guests will celebrate the Grand Re-Opening of the South Higgins Lake State Park with a ribbon cutting ceremony in honor of the park’s new roadways, boat launch and boat wash.
The boat wash, positioned just before the boat launch area, is the first of its kind in a Michigan State Park. It was funded by the Higgins Lake Foundation through generous support of its donors and the EnTrust Fund. The HLF initially pledged funding in 2011 and increased that pledge in 2013 when projected costs rose to $70,067. The large grant reflects the high priority the HLF puts on preventing the spread of invasive species and the importance of this landmark structure within one of the most heavily used state parks.
The HLF has a long history of funding boat washes on Higgins Lake. In 2009 the Higgins Lake Foundation funded the boat wash on the north side of Higgins Lake providing a convenient location for boaters using the North State Park and West Launch sites. The DNR worked with HLF by providing approval for construction on state land adjoining the North State Park. The $60,000 boat wash was funded by HLF and grant funds of $20,000 from the Roscommon County Community Foundation for construction, electrical and well costs. This resulted in a prototype design for boat washes in state parks and other inland lakes, including Paradise Lake in Cheboygan County and Crystal Lake in Benzie County. The Foundation has also assisted other communities with design and ideas for funding and construction of boat washes, including Hubbard Lake in Alcona County and Houghton Lake in Roscommon County. With the addition of the new boat wash at the South State Park, area boaters now have three convenient boat wash locations, including a portable wash station funded by HLF at the Gerrish Township Community Marina on Higgins Lake.
The Higgins Lake Foundation also worked with the DNR to develop unique directional signage that is used statewide as well as the logo and phrase, “Spray Before You Play” to effectively market the concept of washing boats before and after launching.
Fighting the spread of aquatic invasives by increasing public awareness, the HLF provides education on invasive aquatic species, including kiosks with graphic signs at all three state launches on the lake and at the Gerrish Township Community Marina. Last year the HLF hosted several days of education at Higgins Lake South State Park with the use of volunteers and a portable boat wash. This past June, the HLF partnered with the DNR in the two-day “Aquatic Invasive Landing Blitz,” a statewide event which took place at several inland lakes. More than thirty volunteers met with boaters at launch areas on Higgins Lake, shared information and distributed “kozies,” towels, floating key chains and stickers to over one-hundred boaters.
The message is simple: Clean, Drain, Dry. The boat washes are free and available to the public seasonally. Do your part and Spray Before You Play!