By Sam Horner, Shelli-Kae Foster, and Taylor Templer
On August 17th YES! staff participated in the University of Minnesota’s Starry Trek event. In fact, all across the state of Minnesota, a multitude of volunteers participated in the event to survey different lakes to help locate an aquatic invasive species (AIS) called Starry Stonewart. The goal of the volunteers was to locate the plant and to notify officials to help eradicate the plant from these lakes. AIS are a problem because they out compete native plants and they disrupt the environment around them. The best way to keep these plants out of our lakes is early detection and then cleaning the lake of any invasive species.
In Itasca County, Sam Horner, NE YES! Coordinator took part in the Starry Trek at Blandin Beach in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. They had 8 volunteers who participated in the event, everyone from concerned citizens to AIS Detectors were at the event. The group broke up into 3 groups and investigated 3 lakes per group. Sam’s team checked out Trout Lake, Holman Lake, and Twin Lake. After throwing the rakes 5-6 times in each lake, they thankfully only found native plants. They found Northern Watermilfoil, Coontail, Native Stoneworts, and Muskgrasses. However, one of the other groups did find an interesting plant. They were only able to find a single strand of the plant and it was hard to identify, but the local Soil and Water Conservation District was going to send a team out to the potentially infested lake. Sam did not think it was Starry Stonewort, but they did not want to take the chance so they decided to investigate the lake further.
In Douglas County, Shelli-Kae Foster, YES! Program Director learned about Starry Stonewort and other Aquatic Invasive Species along with 11 other volunteers from the area. Shelli-Kae teamed up with Donna Pederson to test 3 bodies of water including Moon Lake, Long Lake and Stowe’s Lake. They brought back 5 samples to Douglas County AIS Coordinator Justin Swart for further analysis. Justin determined they were native and not invasive. Both Donna and Shelli-Kae enjoyed the morning of exploring new bodies of water in their area and were glad to have not found any AIS!
In Kandiyohi County, Taylor Templer, West Central YES! Coordinator hosted the Starry Trek at Saulsbury Beach in Spicer. Taylor trained the volunteers on what they were looking for and the procedure for collecting the aquatic vegetation. Volunteers traveled to local lakes including: Monongalia (Mud), Calhoun, Green, Carrie, Elizabeth, Nest, and George. 10 samples were brought back by the volunteers and will be examined and sent to AIS experts to determine their identities.
All in all, the event was a success. Thank you to everyone who participated in the event and all of the hard work that was put into this event to make it successful.