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Lake looking for KO in fight against starry stonewort infestation

When announcing the discovery of starry stonewort in Lake Minnewaska last week, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said the invasive algae has never been eradicated from any U.S. lake where it has been found.

Minnewaska Lake Association President Mike Stai believes the case on Minnewaska might be able to change that.

So far, the infected area on Minnewaska has been limited to the 1.5-acre area within the marina in Starbuck. Stai wrote in a press release that the DNR’s survey of the lake outside the marina and on both the north and south shores did not show any of the algae present.

Starry stonewort can form dense mats that can interfere with fish spawning habitat, recreational use of the lake and compete with native plants.

“Fortunately, we found it soon enough so we can actually do something about it before it gets into the main lake,” Stai said in an interview.

The lake association immediately agreed to an aggressive action plan. The DNR said in its release that starry stonewort hadn’t been eradicated, but that treatment can help ease its effects on the body of water. Stai is confident that having the algae confined only to the marina ups the odds of actually killing starry stonewort on Minnewaska.

“In most cases, it’s in the main lake so they don’t have a controlled area where they can actually treat the entire area where it’s infested,” Stai said. “This isn’t outside the marina. They have docks on both sides and then a channel down the middle where you can barely meet a boat. We’re going to treat the whole thing. We have the advantage of it being contained, and that’s why we want to treat it right away.”

Stai reached out to the president of the lake association on Lake Sylvia, a body of water in Wright County where the DNR found starry stonewort present in 2016.

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