Looking for a fun opportunity to get outside, explore local lakes, and be a part of the solution to aquatic invasive species problems this summer? Starry Trek is the event for you! Starry Trek is an annual event hosted by the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center and University of Minnesota Extension in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. This event takes aim at searching for new populations of starry stonewort, invasive algae first discovered in Minnesota in 2015.
What to expect at Starry Trek
No experience is necessary to participate in Starry Trek and this is a free, family-friendly event. On the morning of August 21st, you'll arrive at the local training site you registered for. There you will be greeted by your local coordinator from one of our many local partners that make this event happen. You'll sign in to the event and receive a brief, on-site training. After your training, your coordinator will give you the equipment you need and assign you your monitoring route. You'll visit each stop on your list, follow the steps in the monitoring protocols, and report back what you found to your local coordinator. Don't worry about being an expert on identifying any of the aquatic plants or animals you find. Your local coordinator is there to help sort through everything you bring back. You'll be done no later than 1pm. If you'd like to preview the training in advance, you can do that by watching a short video series from the AIS Detectors program's YouTube channel.
Notable finds by volunteers participating in Starry Trek
Starry stonewort has only been found in 18 of Minnesota's lakes and volunteers participating in Starry Trek have been responsible for the discovery of 4 of those new populations: Grand Lake (Stearns County), Wolf Lake (Hubbard/Beltrami County), Lake Beltrami (Beltrami County), and Lake Carnelian (Stearns County). Some of these discoveries have led to successful management programs within these lakes. In addition to starry stonewort, volunteers have made some other notable discoveries. For example, last year a young participant discovered a population of Corbicula fluminea in a Sherburne County lake which led to a Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center sponsored project to better understand the overwinter survival of that population. Participants have also found 1 new zebra mussel population, 2 new lakes with Eurasian watermilfoil, 1 new population of purple loosestrife, and 27 previously unreported locations with invasive mystery snails plus 6 with curly-leaf pondweed. Looking for the "too long, didn't read" version? Participants make a difference every year!
This year has already seen announcements of two new lakes (Leech Lake in Cass County and Pimushe Lake in Beltrami County) and with starry stonewort, highlighting the importance of events like this. Join us at one of our 28 locations across Minnesota by registering at z.umn.edu/StarryTrekRegistration. Register by August 15th to be guaranteed a free volunteer tote bag, but you can register at any time before the event to participate.