BEMIDJI -- The community is invited to join the upcoming Starry Trek event hosted by Beltrami County Environmental Services AIS Program. The event will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 15, starting at 2400 Middle School Ave. NW.

Starry Trek is a statewide event focused on searching for one of Minnesota's newest aquatic invasive species, starry stonewort, an algae that was first found in Minnesota at Lake Koronis in 2015. The Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center has been working to find research-based solutions to limit the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Local sites such as the one here in Bemidji will be used to train participants on how to identify starry stonewort and other aquatic invasive species in area lakes, and how to follow the search protocols.

Groups will then be sent out to nearby priority lakes to follow the protocols and bring back any suspicious organisms. Starry Trek is a free event and no experience or special equipment is required. Participants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

The following COVID-19 precautions will be in place:

  • Registration is required by Aug. 6. The group will not be able to accommodate late or on-site registration this year in order to have an accurate headcount to appropriately plan equipment and social distancing.
  • Social-distancing is required. All participants and local coordinators must maintain at least six feet from other individuals who are not from the same household during training and monitoring.
  • All activities will take place outdoors. Because the risk of spreading COVID-19 is significantly lower in outdoors environments, all local training sites are required to be held outdoors this year.
  • No carpooling with individuals from outside your household. Because vehicle travel involves extended periods in an enclosed space with limited opportunity for social distancing, participants are asked to avoid carpooling with individuals who are not part of their household.
  • Masks and hand sanitizer will be provided. While it is not required to wear a mask in order to participate, organizers will provide disposable masks to all registered participants. Participants are encouraged to wear the provided masks or their own masks from home while at the local training site, receiving equipment, or near individuals from a different household. Similarly, frequent use of the provided hand sanitizer is encouraged as appropriate.
  • Bring your own water and snacks. Organizers discourage community snacks at local training sites this year. Participants are reminded to bring their own water and any desired snacks from home.
  • Do not come if you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms. If any participant is experiencing a fever or any other COVID-19 symptoms, they are asked to stay home. Review COVID-19 symptoms on the MDH website.

To learn more about the event, and to register by Aug. 6, visit www.StarryTrek.org.