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Volunteers needed to search for starry stonewort

Raked-up starry stonewort from Lake Koronis in Paynesville. (Contributed / DNR)

Are you interested in aquatic invasive species? Do you want to help Douglas County Land and Resource Management authorities?

Volunteers are needed on Saturday, Aug. 18, to participate in a statewide search for starry stonewort, Minnesota's newest aquatic invasive species. Hundreds of volunteers will gather at rendezvous sites statewide — including Douglas County — to learn how to identify starry stonewort and other aquatic invasive species and search for them in area lakes.

Starry stonewort was first found in Lake Koronis, near Paynesville, in 2015 and has since spread to 11 Minnesota lakes, according to a news release from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Starry stonewort was found in Lake Minnewaska in Pope County in 2017.

Early detection of starry stonewort is critical for control, say area authorities. During the first search last year, known as Starry Trek, volunteers found an early infestation of starry stonewort in Grand Lake in Stearns County. This led to the lake association, along with the DNR, rapidly mobilizing to hand-pull the infestation. So far, initial results are promising, according to the DNR.

Starry Trek 2018 will take place in Douglas County on Aug. 18 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Volunteers are asked to register online at www.StarryTrek.org. No experience or equipment is necessary to participate. Expert training on monitoring protocols and starry stonewort identification will be provided on-site.

Douglas County volunteers are asked to meet at Douglas County Public Works, 526 Willow Drive in Alexandria at 8:30 a.m. They will then be sent to nearby lakes to check for starry stonewort. At the end of the day, volunteers will return and report their findings.

The event is free, but registration is required and preferred by Aug. 11. Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

"We're excited to be partnering with the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center for this event," said Justin Swart, Douglas County Land and Resource Management environmental planning technician.

"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 aquatic invasive species by actively engaging people with early detection efforts."

Celeste Edenloff

Celeste is a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press and has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in June 2016 to report on the community she calls home. Besides writing articles for the Echo Press, she has a blog, “Newspaper Girl on the Run.” Celeste is on a continuous healthy living journey and loves to teach bootcamp fitness classes and run. She has participated in more than 200 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon (13.1 mile) distances.

(320) 763-1242