Starry Trek: a statewide search for starry stonewort

Thanks to all who attended!

On August 5, 2017, two hundred volunteers turned out across the state to participate in the inaugural Starry Trek! After being trained to identify Starry stonewort, volunteers fanned out and searched 211 public access on 178 lakes statewide. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources confirmed one new finding of starry stonewort, in Grand Lake in Stearns County. This is the first new confirmation of starry stonewort in a Minnesota lake in 2017.

The lakes that were searched had been prioritized as potentially high-risk for a starry stonewort infestation based on a model created by MAISRC researchers along with local use information from Starry Trek local coordinators. The model took into account several factors such as temperature, precipitation, and pH.

“With over 13 million acres of surface water in Minnesota, it’s incredibly difficult for state and local officials to examine every lake and river reach for invasive species,” said Megan Weber, MAISRC Extension Educator. “We need as many eyes on the water as possible, and that’s where citizen scientists come in.”

Starry stonewort is an invasive algae that was first found in Lake Koronis in 2015 and has since been found in ten Minnesota lakes, including Grand Lake. Research into control options is ongoing at the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center.

“Although we were hoping to find no new populations, we are glad this one was discovered early, thanks to the people who participated in Starry Trek,” said Heidi Wolf, DNR invasive species unit supervisor. “We’re also encouraged that there hasn’t been a greater number of lakes found to have starry stonewort during this major search.”

Starry stonewort can grow tall and dense, forming mats on the surface that interfere with recreation and potentially displacing native plant species.

“This huge statewide search effort would not be possible without the help of the local coordinators from each participating county and the many volunteers who participated in the event,” added Weber. “They are truly making a difference in the health of Minnesota’s lakes and rivers.”

Stay tuned for more information about Starry Trek 2018!

Thank you to our partners:

zebra mussels
starry stonewort

Thank you to our local host organizations:

  • Becker SWCD
  • Beltrami County AIS Program
  • Big Stone County
  • Carver County Planning and Water Management
  • Dakota County SWCD
  • Douglas County Land and Resource Management
  • Hubbard County Environmental Services
  • Itasca County AIS Program
  • Kanabec SWCD
  • Lake County SWCD
  • Lake Minnetonka Association
  • Lake of the Woods SWCD
  • Morrison County Land Services
  • Otter Tail County
  • Ramsey Conservation District
  • Sherburne SWCD
  • Stearns County Coalition of Lakes Associations
  • Todd SWCD
  • Winona County SWCD
  • Wright SWCD