Starry stonewort search completed on 18 lakes in northern Hubbard County

August 25, 2021

Eleven volunteers from our lakes area trained for an hour on Aug. 21 at the DNR Wolf Lake Management Area undeveloped access on the border of Beltrami and Hubbard counties, where Starry Stonewort (SSW) was discovered during Starry Trek 2018.

The aquatic vegetation piled in front of the team on the viewing sheets is SSW retrieved in one rake toss.

We learned to identify the algae SSW with its grass-like appearance, smooth, thin stems with branchlets in whorls of 5 to 8. We looked, specifically, for uneven forked tips of the branchlets, too, and any presence of star-shaped bulbils on clear rhizoids, like fishline.

We compared it to the smaller, native lookalikes: chara, nitella, sago pondweed and water stargrass.

With the goal of early detection of aquatic invasive species (AIS) in mind, the Starry Trek volunteers then split into five teams, each covering between three to five lakes on a specified route and searched for Starry Stonewort and other AIS at 19 public accesses on 18 northern Hubbard County lakes.

For each lake, a clean toolset was used to prevent the spread of AIS from one lake to another. Our Hubbard County Starry Trek 2021 participants changed their shoes, plus used a clean rake, tub, viewing sheet and towel for each lake, then bagged the toolset for proper cleaning, draining and drying at the end of the event.

Late Saturday afternoon, the rakes were decontaminated in tubs of 142-degree water for 5 minutes at the Hubbard County decontamination station in Park Rapids. We just called ahead for our free appointment at 218-252-6738.

The clean, dry rakes are ready for next year’s Starry Trek to be held across Minnesota in August 2022.

Please check your favorite lake accesses now for SSW and other AIS, too! Email [email protected] for more information.

Starry Trek is jointly supported by the MN AIS Research Center and the U of M Extension.

Although no new unknown AIS was discovered in our Aug. 21 sampling, the results of pathways for invasive species introductions were evident.

Besides watercraft, which can harbor invisible zebra mussel veligers in standing water or a trailer with a piece of the algae SSW, the banded mystery snails along the shoreline, also known to exist in Wolf Lake where we trained, were likely introduced by an aquarium dumped illegally when it became overpopulated.

We observed mystery snails on some of the other lakes sampled, too.

See the Hubbard County Environmental Services web page for an interactive map of known AIS in our county:

The DNR has a survey now that is seeking input from aquarium and water garden pond owners in Minnesota. The DNR needs your advice to help prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive plants and animals to Minnesota waters.

Invasive species are non-native species that present risks to Minnesota’s fish, wildlife, plants, water quality, recreation and human health. Find the survey here:

Members of the Hubbard County Coalition of Lake Associations write a monthly column in the Enterprise addressing water issues in the region.