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New option to keep invasive species out of Higgins Lake

By Theresa Ekdom

ROSCOMMON COUNTY – There is a new way to keep your boat clean and free of invasive species.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Higgins Lake Property Owners Association (HLPOA), and the Higgins Lake Foundation (HLF) have worked together to keep Higgins Lake free of invasive species by providing and promoting two permanent, and one portable boat washes at the lake.

But the washes have their downfalls. The wash located near North Higgins Lake State Park is not on the lake, and boaters need to make an extra effort to visit the site. The South Higgins Lake State Park was having a limit on the number of boats that can be washed each day.

Larry Ebright from the Lansing area cleans his boat.

“The discharge permit we have with Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) limits the amount of water we can discharge. The system is designed to handle 650 gallons a day,” said Rachel Roberts, South Higgins Lake State Park supervisor. “We’ve never exceeded our limit. We do see a ton of boats. We have a lot of only Higgins Lake users.”

Officials recommend you wash your boat before, and after, going into a lake to remove any material that might be on the boat. In fact, it is illegal in Michigan to have any plant material left on your boat or trailer.

But with all the money spent on weed control in the lakes, it only makes sense to remove the weeds before transporting them to a different lake. Or, for reinfesting the lake you boat on.

There have been improvements in the washing system however. HLF, HLPOA, and the DNR recently met at South Higgins Lake Park to see a demonstration of a new, waterless cleaning system presented by CD3 General Benefit Corporation out of Minnesota.

The CD3, or, Clean-Drain-Dry-Dispose, system is portable, and uses air, brushes, a gripper, and a wet/dry vac to remove all water and vegetation from a boat. The system is self contained – the water goes into a container and is removed by a septic cleaner when full. It is ADA compliant, and offers education on why it is needed. It can be run on solar power or a battery.

The CD3 system sends use data to the ‘cloud’ allowing organizations to see the number of times each tool is used, as well as how full the waste water container is. Maintenance reminders can be received via an email, and instructions for repair can be found online.

“We have been working with the DNR and HLF meeting every other week since last Sept. on a pilot boat wash program which includes education,” HLPOA President Charlene Cornell said.

That is what led to staffing the boat washes at the park this summer.

“The staff (at South Park boat wash) has been great. We are really pleased with the summer program,” Vickie Springstead, chair of HLF said.

“There are 180 known invasives in the Great Lakes and (no way to remove them,” Springstead said.

“We are waiting for the day when we aren’t saying ‘Clean your boat,’ and the boaters are saying ‘Where’s your boat wash’,” she added.

The CD3 system costs about $30,000, compared to $60-70,000 for each existing boat wash. The groups haven’t decided on whether they will invest in the system.

“I guess we’re window shopping,” Springstead said.

The news about keeping your vessel clean is getting out to the boaters. While at the demonstration, Larry Ebright, of the Lansing area, pulled his boat up to the cleaning system.

“I saw the sign ‘Stop Invasives’ so I thought we would wash it,” Ebright said.


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