Volunteers from across Minnesota are needed on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020 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 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 that was first found in Minnesota at Lake Koronis in 2015 and has since spread to 14 Minnesota lakes. Early detection of this species is critical for control. Starry Trek volunteers have found starry stonewort in three lakes – Grand Lake in Stearns County, Wolf Lake at the Hubbard/Beltrami County border, and Lake Beltrami in Beltrami County – as well as other aquatic invasive species like Eurasian watermilfoil and zebra mussels during this event.
The 2017 discovery of starry stonewort in Grand Lake led to the lake association and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources 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 University of Minnesota and 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 onsite. This event is free, but registration is required. Children under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. The event’s protocols have been modified to accommodate COIVD-19 precautions. To view all safety measures, visit the event’s website (www.starrytrek.org).
“This is my third year hosting the event and I am proud to once again partner with the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center for this event,” said James Wooton, AIS detector, volunteer. “Protecting our lakes is 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.”
There are currently 24 local training sites committed around the state, including one in Ottertail County, at Pebble Lake Beach in Fergus Falls. Volunteers will meet at their local site for training, then will 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. For a full list of the sites and other FAQs, please visit www.StarryTrek.org.
The Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center works across the state to develop research-based solutions that can reduce the impacts of aquatic invasive. A portion of the funding for this program is provided by the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. Learn more at www.maisrc.umn.edu.
For statewide information, contact:
Megan Weber, Extension Educator
Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center
For local information, contact: