Getting Involved in Aquatic Invasive Species: Something for Everyone

By Megan M. Weber, Aquatic Invasive Species Extension Educator

Whether you are looking for a quick day of learning and action or opportunities for advanced learning and volunteer service, we have the program for you to get involved in Minnesota’s response to aquatic invasive species (AIS). Read more about the AIS volunteer and citizen science programs developed by the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center and University of Minnesota Extension.

Starry Trek. Starry Trek is a one-day event held each August to search for one of Minnesota’s newest AIS, starry stonewort. Starry stonewort is a plant-like algae native to Europe and Asia. It is now known to occur in 11 lakes in Minnesota. Participants gather at local rendezvous sites across the state to learn how to identify and search for starry stonewort and other AIS and then disperse to search local lakes for these invaders. In 2017, volunteers participating in the inaugural Starry Trek discovered what was then the 10th known population of starry stonewort in Minnesota (Grand Lake, Stearns County), enabling a rapid response effort by the Minnesota DNR and Grand Lake Association. This year, Starry Trek will take place on Saturday August 18, 2018. More information to come at www.starrytrek.org.

AIS Detectors. AIS Detectors is a network of trained volunteers that increase the capacity for AIS detection, reporting, education/outreach, research, and management in Minnesota. Participants in the program complete a 16-hour hybrid online and in-person training. Upon successful completion of the training they perform 25 hours of annual service in AIS-related activities of their choice. In the program’s inaugural season (2017) 121 volunteers completed the training and within one year completed over 2,000 hours of service. Workshops are held each spring. The final training of 2018 will be held in Duluth on Friday, June 1. For more information visit www.aisdetectors.org.

AIS Trackers. AIS Trackers is a citizen science program aimed at empowering members of the public to collect data that can be used to help inform management of the aquatic invasive plants Eurasian watermilfoil and curly-leaf pondweed.  Participants will complete training to learn about aquatic plant management, aquatic plant ID, and protocols for data collection and reporting. This information can be used by individual lakes to track year-to-year progress and trends and will feed into a database to be used by researchers at the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center and others to guide management. The AIS Trackers program is entering its pilot season for 2018. Stay tuned for broader opportunities in 2019 and beyond. For more information visit www.aisdetectors.org.

Looking for more information about one of these programs? Contact Megan Weber (mmweber@umn.edu, 763-767-3874)

starrytrek

Starry Trek participants search a Sherburne County lake for aquatic invasive species. Photo credit: Megan M. Weber