Starry Trek comes to Beltrami County: Volunteers needed for Aug. 5 event to help search for starry stonewort
BEMIDJI -- Volunteers from across Minnesota are needed on Saturday, Aug. 5, to participate in a statewide search for starry stonewort, Minnesota’s newest aquatic invasive species, which has been found in several Bemidji-area lakes.
Hundreds of volunteers will gather at rendezvous sites statewide for Starry Trek, where they will learn how to identify starry stonewort and search for it in area lakes, according to a release from Bruce Anspach, Beltrami County’s Aquatic Invasive Species Lake Technician.
Starry stonewort is an invasive algae that was first found in Lake Koronis in 2015 and has since spread to nine Minnesota lakes, including, Upper Red Lake, Big Turtle Lake, Moose Lake and Cass Lake in Beltrami County and Lake Winnibigoshish in Itasca and Cass counties.
Starry stonewort are grass-like macro algae that may produce dense mats, which could interfere with use of the lake. The invasive algae also may choke out native plants. It is typically spread by lake users who transport fragments of the plant from an infested body of water.
Early detection of starry stonewort is critical for control, officials said.
“This event is a terrific way for local community members to get outdoors, learn more about starry stonewort and other aquatic invasive species, and truly make a difference in the health of their area lakes,” said Megan Weber, Extension Educator with the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center. “The information we gain at this event will help 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, but registration is requested. Those younger than 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,” Anspach said in the release.
“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.”
There will be over a dozen rendezvous sites around the state, including Beltrami County. Volunteers will meet at their local rendezvous site for training, then be sent to nearby lakes to check for starry stonewort.
At the end of the day, they’ll return to the rendezvous site to report their findings. For a full list of the sites and other FAQs, please visit www.StarryTrek.org.
For more information, contact Beltrami County Environmental Services at (218) 333-8281.