A grant request from the Higgins Lake Swimmers Itch Organization (HLSIO) to help combat swimmers itch in Higgins Lake was recently approved for partial funding by the Higgins Lake Foundation for $23,000.00. This grant will fund an action plan, taking place this spring and summer, organized and managed by SICon LLC and overseen by the HLSIO.
The original grant request, for specific activities and extensive biological studies conducted by SICon for the 2015 season, was for $50,000.00, with total estimated project costs for the this summer expected to reach $225,000.00.
The HLF grant is for specific and limited activity, using the Federal Fish & Wildlife permit obtained by Curtis Blankespoor, Partner at SICon, for the lethal taking of 20 common merganser ducks, destroying 40 common merganser eggs and the trap & release of 150 common mergansers to designated locations.
“Efforts to combat swimmer’s itch will be long term and slow to produce results,” said Mary Fry, Executive Director of the HLF. “The actions by SICon and the HLSIO will support and enhance work already taking place on Higgins Lake and expand upon the scientific studies.”
This plan will take several years and likely require much more funding to make it viable in the future, with total estimated costs of $750,000.00 for the three year program. The HLSIO had already raised, at the time the grant request was submitted, approximately $55,000.00.
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 HLSIO to develop an adequate funding source for future studies.
“The HLF Board is happy to assist with the action plan set out by the HLSIO for the 2015 season,” said Vicki Springstead, Chair of the HLF. “The approval of grant applications is based on the acceptable fit of the project to our ongoing mission, acting as a permanent resource dedicated to the continuing preservation of Higgins Lake and its watershed.”
The Higgins Lake Foundation has also funded a swimmer’s itch study by MSU that is underway and supported recent activities authorized by a permit issued to Gerrish Township to combat swimmer’s itch.