Volunteers and the Minnesota DNR were looking really hard to find starry stonewort, but they only discovered the plant in one Minnesota lake.
And that's pretty great news.
The search – dubbed "Starry Trek" – of 178 lakes in 20 counties was conducted earlier this month to see if the "lake killer" had spread to any more lakes.
The DNR confirmed Tuesday a "light, isolated" growth of starry stonewort was found near the public access in Grand Lake, located in Stearns County.
This marks the first new confirmation of the invasive algae in a Minnesota lake this year.
“Although we were hoping to find no new populations, we are glad this one was discovered early," Heidi Wolf, DNR invasive species unit supervisor, said in a news release. “We’re also encouraged that there hasn’t been a greater number of lakes found to have starry stonewort during this major search.”
The DNR is considering treatment options for the invasive plant, but the agency notes that starry stonewort has not been successfully eradicated from any lake in the U.S.
What is starry stonewort?
Starry stonewort is an alga that's not native to North America.
It becomes a problem because it can form "dense mats" on the surface of the water, which can interfere with how you use the lake, the DNR says. Starry stonewort also competes with native plants.
Minnesota has had nine confirmed cases of starry stonewort. The first case was reported in Lake Koronis in 2015.
Starry stonewort looks similar to native grass-like algae that's common in Minnesota lakes, like other stoneworts and musk-grass. It's easiest to spot this invasive plant in the month of August, when starry stonewort's star-shaped bubils are the most visible.
If you see something, say something
So if you're out on the lake, keep your eyes out for the invasive plant. If you see starry stonewort – or any other invasive plant or animal – take note of where you saw it and, if possible, snap a photo. Then report it to the DNR right away.
And to keep the plant from spreading to any more lakes, the DNR says make sure your boats, anchors, docks, etc. are cleaned off. For more information on preventing the spread of invasive species, click here.