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Lake Saint Helen is located in Roscommon County of northern Michigan near Interstate 75 and right next to the town of St. Helen - Charlton Heston's childhood town. The spring-fed lake looks like three lakes joined together and has a surface area of about 2,400 acres. It is one of the main inflow sources for the South Branch of the Au Sable River which eventually flows into the great Lake Huron to the east. Only 3 miles of the 18-mile shoreline are developed (on the southeast side). The area boasts many cozy waterfront estates.
Fish living in Lake Saint Helen are bass, brown trout, crappie, perch, lake trout, pike, rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, walleye and bluegill. The lake is particularly attractive for its bluegill fishery. There is an annual Bluegill Festival that has ocurred every summer in St. Helen for 59 years. It typically includes a parade, a carnival, vendors, tournaments, live bands, raffles, fishing contests, a children's parade, games, and an auto show. The Bluegill Festival attracts crowds of people every year.
Water levels on Lake Saint Helen are controlled by a gravity-type dam situated at the mouth of the South Branch of the Au Sable River. The dam was completed in 1930, and is controlled by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. The dam is used for recreation purposes. The water is relatively shallow and there needs to be enough water for boats to float. The average depth of the lake is no more than 7.5 feet, and the maximum depth is 26 feet.
Lake Saint Helen once had a problem with Eurasian watermilfoil (EWM) that was growing in mats on the surface of the lake. The pretty, feathery-like aquarium plant grows rapidly and can stagnate a lake and disrupt recreational activities. A program administered by Enviroscience, Inc. from 1998 to 2001 quickly decimated the EWM beds in the lake by stocking the lake with a population of weevils. As a result, native plants, such as Coontail, Waterlilies and various species of Pondweed, began reappearing and are now thriving on the lake.
The Saint Helen Campground in Township Park provides 30 sites with water and electricity and 30 additional rustic sites. The park's recreational offerings include two ball fields, tennis and basketball courts, playground, playscape, and a covered pavilion.
Lake Saint Helen attracts water sports enthusiasts such as jet skiiers but is reportedly quiet. Boating and swimming are enjoyed. Hunting in the near wooded regions is a popular sport. Winter time brings out the scarves, mittens, and snowmobiles.
Roscommon County offers all kinds of other attractions. Visit the Houghton Forest State Park with a semi-modern, 50-site campground for tents and small trailers. Visit various historical sites, including the Au Sable River Museum, the Fireman's Memorial with a festival every September, an historical village with restored 1800's buildings, and a farm park typical of a Midwest farmstead during the 1930s. Culture yourself at a photography exhibit, art show, or performing arts theater. Experience fine dining and lodging at various hotels and resorts. Or go for the always cozy, rustic cottage setting.
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