By Taylor Templer
Volunteers from across Minnesota are needed on Saturday, August 17th 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 statewide 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 fourteen 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 – 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 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 by local site coordinator, Taylor Templer. This event is free, but registration is requested. Children under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
“We’re delighted to be partnering with the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center for this event,” said Taylor Templer, West Central YES! Coordinator. “Protecting our lakes for future generations is really important to us all, and we want to do make sure we’re doing the best we can to prevent the introduction and spread of AIS.”
There are currently 27 local training sites committed around the state, including one at The Green Lake Saulsbury Beach County Park. 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 more information contact the West Central YES! Coordinator at [email protected]
For a full list of the sites and other FAQs, please visit www.StarryTrek.org
Major funding for the YES! program was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).