PAYNESVILLE -- Last summer, the aquatic invasive species Starry Stonewart was found in Paynesville's Lake Koronis. It's the first known infestation of Starry Stonewart in Minnesota. The Legislature took notice and passed a bill this session allocating $200,000 to help fight the weedy invader.

Heidi Wolf is the Invasive Species Unit Supervisor for the Department of Natural Resources. She says about 250 acres of the 3,000-acre lake is currently infested.

Starry Stonewart is a macro algae and is not a rooted plant.  Wolf says it competes with the native plants much like Eurasian Watermilfoil and can suffocate the lake's ecology. Starry Stonewart can create large floating mats of weeds making it difficult to use the lake for recreation and limit other uses.

Photo: Minnesota DNR

Wolf says the problem is that there is not much research and data on Starry Stonewart and there aren't good management techniques developed yet.

Wolf says aquatic invasive species experts from around the country will gather at the Minnesota Invasive Species Center at the U-of-M this summer to study the non-native plant.

In the meantime, the funding allocated by the state legislature will be used to try to treat the lake itself.  The money will be used toward a matching grant from the Initiative Foundation to help fund the operation.

Governor Dayton must first sign the supplemental budget bill before the money can be released.