Higgins Lake – USA, North America
Higgins Lake is a large recreational and fishing lake in Roscommon County, in the U.S. state of Michigan. The 9,900 acre (40 km²) lake is known for its deep, clear waters and is the 10th largest in Michigan with a shoreline of 21 miles (34 km). It is named after Sylvester Higgins, Michigan’s first chief of the topographical department of the Michigan Geological Survey. It has a maximum width of 4 miles (6.4 km) and a length of 7 miles (11 km) with a maximum depth of 135 feet (41 m). The mean depth is 44 feet (13 m) and the lake contains almost 20 billion cubic feet (570 million m³) of water. Its retention time is about 12.5 years. The lake’s watershed cover 19,000 acres (77 km²). The twin-lobed lake receives half of its water from submerged springs, 6% from incoming streams and the remainder from direct rainfall and runoff. It drains into Marl Lake by the Cut River which runs into Houghton Lake and eventually to Lake Michigan. A mere mile north of the lake, water flows into the Lake Huron watershed. Sportsfish in the lake include yellow perch, trout, smelt and pike and are taken both in open water and by ice fishing. Higgins Lake is considered a morphometrically oligotrophic lake, meaning that its large size causes it to appear and function as a nutrient-poor lake although it does receive a fair amount of nutrients.
Higgins Lake is also the name of the post office for the area, with ZIP code 48627. This ZIP code includes several other small communities and locales along the shores of the lake, including (moving counter-clockwise around the lake) Hillcrest, Lyon Manor, Detroit Park, Cook Corner, Sharps Corner, Almeda Beach, Oak Grove, Ritz Corner, Pine Bluffs, Daytona-on-the-Lake and Cottage Grove. Since all have Higgins Lake as a postal address, they are often all considered as part of the Higgins Lake community. The lake is situated on the boundary between Lyon Township on the west and Gerrish Township on the east.
There are two state parks, South Higgins Lake State Park, with a mile of shoreline, and North Higgins Lake State Park, located, as might be expected from the names, on opposite ends of the lake. Both provide public boat launches and camping, and are very popular in the summer months. The south park is older, larger, and more developed. The north park is located on what was once the world’s largest seedling nursery, a part of the CCC of the 1930s.
Centuries before European settlers came to North America, the Chippewa called the lake Majinabeesh, which means “sparkling water”.
According to local legend, Higgins Lake was once rated by National Geographic as the 6th most beautiful lake in the world although National Geographic denies ever publishing such a ranking. Similar legends persist among property owners and locals around other nearby lakes, most notably Glen Lake in Leelanau County which claims to have been ranked first and Torch Lake in Antrim County, which claims to have been ranked third.
In recent years, the lake has become increasingly popular which has resulted in the introduction of foreign species and rapid lakefront build up which has resulted in some environmental changes. The most obvious change has been the introduction of zebra mussels. Zebra mussels have decimated the clam population and resulted in more vegetation growing on the bottom of the lake. Combined with an increased amount of phosphorus in the water due to the use of fertilizers from homeowners who have chosen to replace the native ground cover with sod and grass seed, residents have reported a changing ecology.
Residents at Higgins Lake have become more proactive in trying to protect the lake’s ecology by lobbying for laws to enforce cleaning of boats before they can be put into the lake as well as programs to try to combat other foreign pests and intruders to preserve the natural ecology.