ROCKVILLE -- Early detection is being credited for helping keep an invasive species from spreading in Grand Lake.

Starry stonewart was discovered in August 2017 through a collaborative project called Starry Trek. It's a program developed through the U-of-M Extension Office and the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center.  Volunteers with the Stearns County Coalition of Lake Associations then went out to look for starry stonewart and other invasive aquatic species on county lakes.

Coalition President and Grand Lake resident Jim Bartelme says once they discovered the starry stonewart just out from the boat landing, they had to form a plan to control it. He says they took a different approach than Lake Koronis which uses chemical treatments, mechanical harvesting, and divers. Because the Grand Lake infestation was small when they found it, Bartelme says they were able to go in and pull it out by hand.

Starry Stonewart - Photo Courtesy of Kevin Farnum

Divers have been hand-pulling the weed out of the lake the last two years and plan four more operations this year.  Volunteers also go out every month and do a full lake survey to make sure the invasive plant isn't spreading.

Three Stearns County lakes currently have starry stonewart.  They are Lake Koronis, Grand Lake and Rice Lake.

Bartelme is reminding boaters ahead of the fishing opener to practice clean, drain, and dry to help prevent the spread of all aquatic invasive species.

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