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​Lake-loving volunteers are needed on Saturday, Aug. 21 to search for starry stonewort, an aquatic invasive algae that can spread easily and grow into dense mats at and below the lake’s surface.

More than two dozen sites around the state will be checked for starry stonewort and other aquatic invasive species, including in Dakota County. Volunteers in Dakota County will meet in Eagan outside the Lebanon Hills Visitor Center, 860 Cliff Road, at 8:30 a.m., for training before heading to nearby lakes to look for starry stonewort. Starry Trek volunteers will return to Lebanon Hills Visitor Center to report their findings.

No experience or equipment is necessary, and expert training is provided. The event is free, but registration is requested by Aug. 15. Children under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

The county is partnering with the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center. Starry Trek volunteers three years ago discovered a new population of zebra mussels in Lake Isabelle in Hastings, highlighting the importance of this type of volunteering. 

“Protecting our lakes for future generations is important to us all,” said Lindsey Albright, water resources specialist with the Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation District. “Starry Trek volunteers make sure we’re doing the best we can to prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species.” 

All activities will be outdoors. Volunteers should follow statewide and local COVID-19 requirements and recommendations. Volunteers may or may not choose to carpool based on their own comfort level. Volunteers are not required to wear a mask, but masks and hand sanitizer will be provided. Individual decisions of volunteers to wear a mask will be respected. Do not volunteer if you have any COVID-19 symptoms. Volunteers must bring their own water and snacks. 

Starry stonewort is an invasive algae that was first found in Lake Koronis in 2015 and has since spread to 16 Minnesota lakes. Early detection of this species is critical for control. Learn more about starry stonewort from the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center at www.maisrc.umn.edu.

This program is supported by the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. 

For volunteer registration and a list of sites, visit www.starrytrek.org. For more information, contact Lindsey Albright at lindsey.albright@co.dakota.mn.us or 651-480-7783.

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