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Starry stonewort confirmed in Bowen Lake in Cass County, Turtle River Lake in Beltrami County

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed the invasive algae starry stonewort in Bowen Lake, near Backus in Cass County and in Turtle River Lake, near the city of Turtle River in Beltrami County.

Starry stonewort
Starry Stonewort begins growing around mid-June and can reach up to 6 inches to a foot below a lake’s water surface. (Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer)
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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed the invasive algae starry stonewort in Bowen Lake, near Backus in Cass County and in Turtle River Lake, near the city of Turtle River in Beltrami County.

DNR staff conducting an aquatic plant survey found starry stonewort in Bowen Lake and Beltrami County Environmental Services staff found starry stonewort at Turtle River Lake during early detection surveys at area accesses, a release said.

Follow-up surveys are being conducted to determine the extent of starry stonewort distribution in these lakes.

Starry stonewort is an alga that looks similar to native aquatic plants and can form dense mats, which can interfere with lake use and compete with native plants.

It is most likely spread when fragments have not been properly cleaned from trailered boats, personal watercraft, docks, boat lifts, anchors or other water-related equipment.

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Starry stonewort has now been confirmed in 21 water bodies in Minnesota since it was first confirmed in the state in 2015.

In late summer and early fall, starry stonewort’s small white star-shaped bulbils become more visible, making it easier to distinguish from other aquatic plants. Information on how to identify starry stonewort can be found on the DNR’s website.

If people think they’ve found starry stonewort or any other invasive species new to a lake or river, they should report it to the DNR by contacting their area invasive species specialist mndnr.gov/Invasives/AIS/Contacts.html.

Boaters should consider getting a watercraft decontamination if they are launching into multiple waterbodies within five days of each other.

Whether or not a lake has any invasive species, Minnesota law requires people to:

  • Clean watercraft, trailers and equipment to remove aquatic plants and prohibited invasive species.
  • Drain all water and leave drain plugs out during transport.
  • Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.
  • Never release bait, plants or aquarium pets into Minnesota waters.
  • Dry docks, lifts and rafts for 21 days before moving them from one water body to another.
For nearly half a decade the number of infested waters in Beltrami County has been climbing. There are now three aquatic invasive species in the county and each brings unique challenges to the environment.

These additional steps reduce the risk of spreading aquatic invasive species:

  • Decontaminate watercraft and equipment — find free stations on the courtesy decontamination page of the DNR website.  
  • Spray with high-pressure water or rinse with very hot water (120 degrees for at least two minutes or 140 degrees for at least 10 seconds).
  • Dry watercraft and equipment for at least five days before using in another water body.

More information is available on the aquatic invasive species page of the DNR website mndnr.gov/AIS.

Our newsroom sometimes reports stories under the byline "Pioneer Staff Report." This byline is used when reporters rewrite basic news briefs that originate from official sources, such as an email or press release that requires little or no reporting.

Other times, this byline is used when a news story includes numerous authors or when the story is formed by aggregating previously reported news from various sources. If outside sources are used, it is noted within the story.

For questions about a staff report, call (218) 333-9796 or email news@bemidjipioneer.com.
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