Via the St. Croix River Association:
Polk County residents invited to help search Wisconsin’s waters for invasive species on August 17
Water lovers of all ages are invited to join the St. Croix River Association and Polk County Land and Water Resources Department on a search for aquatic invasive species (AIS), August 17, 2019 at St. Croix Falls Public Library. This fun, hands-on effort, known as Snapshot Day, relies on participants to monitor streams and lakes at designated sites across the state, for signs of non-native plants and animals that pose risks to Wisconsin waterways and wildlife.
In Polk County, the St. Croix River Association (SCRA) is gearing up for their 6th year hosting this event.
“Snapshot Day is a great opportunity for community members to get out and work together to check our streams and rivers for potentially harmful invasive species. A couple years ago, we found an Asian clam the furthest north it’s been documented in the St. Croix. Understanding where these species are invaluable to resource managers- and understanding what is out there and why it could be harmful is invaluable to our communities,” shared Katie Sickmann, Invasive Species Coordinator at SCRA.
SCRA and Polk County Land and Water Resources Department join a larger network of over 20 conservation organizations helping to prevent the spread of invasive species across Wisconsin. Nearly 200 volunteers are expected to join the search for invasive species, which will include escaped or intentionally released water garden and aquarium species.
Invasive species are a threat to the overall health of the St. Croix River and its tributaries. One of the first eight nationally designated wild and scenic rivers, the St. Croix is one of the cleanest tributaries to the Mississippi River. It is a high-value fishery, and the healthy, diverse ecosystem includes at least 40 species of mussels, several of which are rare or endangered.
The introduction of aggressive invasive species into this complex system threatens the ecological integrity of the river as well as the unique cultural resources and our outdoor heritage.
Coordinated by River Alliance of Wisconsin, in partnership with UW Extension’s Citizen Lake Monitoring Network, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Coordination of this event is made possible with generous support from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources through an Aquatic Invasive Species Education, Planning and Prevention grant.
This event is free, but registration is required.
Starry Trek – Searching for a new invasive species
Volunteers from across Minnesota are needed on Saturday, August 17 to participate in a statewide search for starry stonewort, one of Minnesota’s newest aquatic invasive species. Hundreds of volunteers will gather at local training 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 Minnesota at Lake Koronis in 2015 and has since spread to fourteen Minnesota lakes. Early detection of this species is critical for control. Starry Trek volunteers have found starry stonewort in two lakes – Grand Lake in Stearns County and Wolf Lake at the Hubbard/Beltrami County border – as well as other aquatic invasive species like Eurasian watermilfoil and zebra mussels during this event.
The 2017 discovery of starry stonewort in Grand Lake led to the lake association and Minnesota DNR rapidly mobilizing to hand-pull the infestation. This early intervention has widely been considered a success, with starry stonewort continuing to be limited to the small area near the public access where it was initially discovered.
“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.
“We’re delighted to be partnering with the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center for this event,” said Katie Sickmann, Invasive Species Coordinator with the St. Croix River Association. “Protecting our lakes for future generations is really important, and we want to make sure we’re doing the best we can to prevent the introduction and spread of AIS.”
There are currently 27 local training sites committed around the state, including one at the North Branch Library in North Branch. Volunteers will meet at their local site for training, then will be sent to nearby public water accesses to check for starry stonewort. At the end of the day, they’ll return to the local training site to report their findings.
For a full list of the sites and other FAQs, please visit www.StarryTrek.org.
The Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center works across the state to develop research-based solutions that can reduce the impacts of aquatic invasive. A portion of the funding for this program is provided by the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. Learn more at www.maisrc.umn.edu.