Experts worry as invasive Starry Stonewort nears Lake Minnetonka
(FOX 9) - A relatively new invasive species is showing up in lakes in the Twin Cities metro area and its presence has sparked an effort to keep it from spreading into Lake Minnetonka.
Experts say they want to get the word out about the Starry Stonewort because it threatens the water and possibly your water.
“We’ll hose these down in our backyard,” said Chris and Kelly Frankman, a pair of kayakers. “Let them dry out, that way we don’t pull anything on the lake. That way we’re not bringing anything to another lake.”
The Frankmans say they do their part to help keep invasive species from spreading after their inflatable kayak trips around Medicine Lake. For the last 18 months they’ve used the Plymouth lake and, throughout that time, they’ve seen a new invasive algae.
“It’s alarming for sure,” Chris said. “We just want to enjoy it, and I don’t know what they can do to get rid of it,” Kelly added.
The aquatic invader has Vickie Schleuning of the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District very worried.
“The different part of this is that it’s very invasive once it captures the area,” she said.
Experts with the District are working to make sure the species stays out of the popular and massive Lake Minnetonka. The lake’s shoreline is just a few miles away from Medicine Lake.
“It can impact property values, the fishing, the swimming, boating, all of that is affected in all of this,” said Schleuning.
The Minnesota DNR says Starry Stonewort was first reported only a few years ago in 2015 and now it has spread to at least 15 lakes statewide.
“Once it takes hold in the area, it makes it hard to navigate, very thick, chances basically replaces a lot of the natives and it’s very hard to control and irritating it hasn’t been done yet,” Schleuning said.
Officials say you can clean, drain and dry your boats at the ramp before transporting, so Minnesotans like Kelly can continue to enjoy their beloved lakes.
“Growing up in Minnesota, we love the lakes and I feel they’re getting worse and worse and we want to enjoy the lakes,” she said.
The Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center is asking for volunteers Saturday, Aug. 17 to participate in a statewide search for Starry Stonewort.
Hundreds of volunteers are already expected to gather at local traning sites to learn how to identify the species. Visit StarryTrek.org for more information on how to sign up and participate.