Alexandria MN — Volunteers from across Minnesota are needed on Saturday, August 17 to participate in a statewide search for starry stonewort, one of Minnesota’s newest aquatic invasive species. Hundreds of volunteers will gather at local training sites, including one in Douglas County, to learn how to identify starry stonewort and other aquatic invasive species and search for them in area lakes.
Starry stonewort is an invasive algae, first found in Minnesota at Lake Koronis in 2015, that has since spread to 14 Minnesota lakes. Early detection of this species is critical for control. Starry Trek volunteers have found starry stonewort in two lakes – Grand Lake in Stearns County and Wolf Lake at the Hubbard/Beltrami County border.
The 2017 discovery of starry stonewort in Grand Lake led to the lake association and Minnesota DNR rapidly mobilizing to hand-pull the infestation. This early intervention has widely been considered a success, with starry stonewort continuing to be limited to the small area near the public access where it was initially discovered.
“This event is a terrific way for people to get outdoors, get educated about aquatic invasive species, and help protect their area lakes,” said Megan Weber, Extension Educator with the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center. “The information we gain at this event helps researchers and managers understand its current distribution and potentially take action if new infestations are found.”
No experience or equipment is necessary to participate in Starry Trek. Expert training on monitoring protocols and starry stonewort identification will be provided on-site. This event is free, and a light lunch and refreshments will be served. Registration is requested. Go to the U of M website for registration information. Children under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
Douglas County Public Information Officer Julie Anderson talks about the opportunity. (AUDIO BELOW)
“We’re excited to be partnering with the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center for this event,” said Justin Swart, Environmental Planning Technician with Douglas County Land & Resource Management “Protecting our lakes for future generations is really important to us all, and we want to make sure we’re doing the best we can to prevent the introduction and spread of AIS by actively engaging people with early detection efforts.”
Volunteers will meet in the morning for training then be sent to nearby public water accesses to check for starry stonewort. At the end of the day, they’ll return to the local training site to report their findings.