Area volunteers sought Aug. 15 to search for starry stonewort
Volunteers will meet at 8 a.m. at Mission Park in Crow Wing County. Those who wish to participate in the free event must register online at StarryTrek.org.
One of Minnesota’s newest aquatic invasive species is the target of a statewide search requiring volunteers who will be trained and educated about starry stonewort.
Volunteers are needed from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, Aug. 15, to look for the species. The Crow Wing County rendezvous location is Mission Park, 13871 Mission Park Drive, Merrifield. Children under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
Those who wish to participate in the free event must register online at StarryTrek.org . There is a cap on all local training sites this year of 25 registered participants due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This event is a terrific way for people to get outdoors, get educated about aquatic invasive species and help protect their area lakes,” Megan Weber, Extension educator with the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center, said in a news release.
Starry stonewort is an invasive algae first found in Minnesota at Lake Koronis in 2015 that has since spread to 14 Minnesota lakes. At this time, there are no water bodies in Crow Wing County infested with starry stonewort. Early detection of this species is critical for control.
The 2017 discovery of starry stonewort in Grand Lake led to mobilizing hand-pulling 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 first discovered.
“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,” county environmental services specialist Nicole Erickson said in the release.
This is the second year Crow Wing County is hosting a Starry Trek event. 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.
“The information we gain at this event helps researchers and managers understand its current distribution and potentially take action if new infestations are found,” Weber said.
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.
No experience or equipment is necessary to participate in Starry Trek. Training on monitoring protocols and starry stonewort identification will be provided on-site. A map of the route and supplies will be provided to volunteers as they travel to different lake landings in the county.