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Volunteers needed for citizen science event

Volunteers from across Minnesota are needed on Saturday, August 18 to participate in a statewide search for starry stonewort, Minnesota's newest aquatic invasive species.

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Volunteers from across Minnesota are needed on Saturday, August 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 to learn how to identify starry stonewort and other aquatic invasive species and search for them in area lakes.

Starry stonewort is an invasive algae that was first found in Lake Koronis in 2015 and has since spread to eleven Minnesota lakes. Early detection of this species is critical for control. Last year, a group of Starry Trek volunteers found an early infestation of starry stonewort in Grand Lake, which led to the lake association and Minnesota DNR rapidly mobilizing to hand-pull the infestation. Initial results from this early intervention are very promising.

"This event is a terrific way for people to get outdoors, get educated about aquatic invasive species, and help protect their area lakes," said Megan Weber, Extension Educator with the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center. "The information we gain at this event helps researchers and managers understand its current distribution and potentially take action if new infestations are found."

No experience or equipment is necessary to participate in Starry Trek. Expert training on monitoring protocols and starry stonewort identification will be provided on-site. This event is free, but registration is requested. Children under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

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"We're glad to be partnering with the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center for this event," said Karl Koenig, AIS Coordinator at Becker Soil and Water Conservation District. "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 AIS."

There will be 25 rendezvous sites around the state, including Detroit Lakes. Volunteers will meet at their local rendezvous site for training, then be sent to nearby lakes to check for starry stonewort. At the end of the day, they'll return to the rendezvous site to report their findings. For a full list of the sites and registration information, please visit www.StarryTrek.org .

Statewide coordination for Starry Trek is done by the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center and University of Minnesota Extension in partnership with Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. A portion of the funding for this program is provided by the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund.

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