Starry stonewort and wild rice: assessment and response

Starry stonewort

This project will assess the threat of starry stonewort to wild rice using empirical and modeling approaches and apply findings to Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe-led response efforts, supporting surveillance, outreach, and monitoring.

There is great concern about the impacts of starry stonewort (SSW) invasion on wild rice and a need to develop effective strategies to manage SSW that has invaded wild rice beds. As a sacred food and relative to Native people and a prized resource for many Minnesotans, wild rice is an irreplaceable species in Minnesota. It is critical to evaluate the impacts of SSW on wild rice and implement sound response efforts to protect impacted wild rice. In addition, supporting surveillance, outreach, and monitoring is vital for effectively responding to future spread and impacts of SSW on wild rice and other native plant species. The proposed project will respond to the threat of SSW spread and potential impacts to wild rice on the Leech Lake Reservation by leveraging products from previous and ongoing MAISRC research and supporting ongoing efforts of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe (LLBO). The objectives of our project are to:

  1. Improve surveillance for starry stonewort (SSW) within and across Leech Lake Reservation lakes
  2. Assess the impacts of SSW and its management on wild rice
  3. Provide research and extension support for SSW surveillance and management

We will achieve these objectives using the following strategies: incorporate data and models on within- and across-lake spread of aquatic invasive plants to prioritize lakes and areas within lakes to search for SSW. Monitor wild rice beds that have been invaded by SSW and evaluate the responses of wild rice and other native plants to SSW removals—both experimental hand removals and removals performed through ongoing diver-assisted suction harvesting (DASH) management. And we will provide training on SSW identification, impacts, and reporting to Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe (LLBO) community members and other stakeholders, e.g., lakeshore property owners, resort owners, and fishing guides.

Project manager: Dan Larkin

Funded by: Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources

Project start date: Jan. 2023

Project end date: Dec. 2024