Douglas County is home to more than 300 lakes and only a handful of aquatic invasive species including zebra mussels and Eurasian watermilfoil.

And despite efforts in eradicating the watermilfoil, it was recently found again; this time in Lake Victoria.

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The plant was found last week by a Department of Natural Resources water inspector at the south access, according to Justin Swart, environmental planning technician with Douglas County Land and Resource Management. The report was confirmed by Swart and the DNR.

A DNR specialist will be conducting a survey of the lake within the next couple of weeks to determine the extent of the invasion and how to proceed with controlling it.

"It's not very dense at this time and I only saw two or three plants when I was on the lake," Swart said.

As far as Swart knows, Eurasian watermilfoil is only in three Douglas County lakes - Victoria, Oscar and L'Homme Dieu;.

Eurasian watermilfoil can form thick underwater stands of tangled stems and vast mats of vegetation at the water's surface. In shallow areas, the plant can interfere with boating, fishing and swimming, and the plant's floating canopy can also crowd out important native water plants, according to the DNR's website.

It was first discovered in Douglas County in Lake Oscar near Holmes City in 1992. It was found again in June 2012 in Lake L'Homme Dieu; in the middle of the lake between the Krueger's Creek and Rotary Beach public accesses.

Steve Henry, president of the Lake L'Homme Dieu Association, said in a phone interview Tuesday that this week about 11 acres of Lake L'Homme Dieu will be treated for the Eurasian Watermilfoil at a cost of $16,000.

In the past five years, the lake has had treatments each year, at a total cost of between $35,000 to $40,000, Henry said, paid for mostly by the association.

Swart said this year, Douglas County did award a $5,400 grant to the Lake L'Homme Dieu Association to help pay for the treatment.

"This is not a long-term solution, but it has slowed down the growth," Henry said. "If we didn't treat it, we'd probably have more than 60 acres of unboatable water."

Henry said the treatment used by the lake association is 97-98 percent effective and is the best available.

The lake association hires PLM Lake and Land Management Corp. out of Brainerd.

It offers a variety of watershed management tools, products and services including lake and pond surveys, invasive species management plans, and herbicide and algaecide applications.

In addition to zebra mussels and Eurasian watermilfoil, there are two other species present in Douglas County lakes including curlyleaf pondweed and purple loosestrife, but Swart said these two are not on the state's infested waters list.

Stopping invasive species

The key steps to stopping aquatic invasive species are to clean, drain, and dry boats and equipment.

Anglers and boaters are required by law to:

• Drain bait buckets, bilges and live wells before leaving any water access.

• Remove aquatic plants from boats and trailers to prevent the spread of invasive species.

• Pull the plug on their boat and drain all water when leaving all waters of the state.

• Keep the drain plug out while transporting water-related equipment.

Starry Stonewort

Volunteers from across the state are needed on Saturday, Aug. 5, to participate in a statewide search for starry stonewort, Minnesota's newest aquatic invasive species. Starry Stonewort was first discovered in Lake Koronis near Paynesville in 2015. It has since spread to nine other Minnesota Lakes.

Hundreds of volunteers will be gathering at various sites statewide - including Douglas County - to learn how to identify the starry stonewort and help search for it in area lakes.

"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 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."

Early detection of this species is critical for control as it can form thick, dense mats that interfere with boating, swimming and fishing. It will choke out native plant s, according to Weber.

No experience and no equipment is needed to participate in the search effort event, which is being dubbed "Starry Trek 2017."

Starry Trek 2017

Douglas County volunteers are asked to meet at Douglas County Public Works, 526 Willow Drive in Alexandria at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 5. 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.

No boat or equipment is necessary.

For information and to register for the event, visit the event's website at Swart said all those wishing to volunteer are asked to register via the website. If anyone has questions, they can call him at 320-762-3863.