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Otter Tail County representatives tour Lake Koronis, learn about invasive species

The Otter Tail County Aquatic Invasive Species Task Force and the Otter Tail County Coalition of Lake Associations took a group on a bus tour to examine and learn about starry stonewort and other aquatic invasive species.

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Tour participants examine a tuft of starry stonewort.
Contributed / Otter Tail County
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PERHAM — The Otter Tail County Aquatic Invasive Species Task Force and the Otter Tail County Coalition of Lake Associations recently sponsored a bus tour to Lake Koronis to view the starry stonewort infestation.

Representatives from Otter Tail County including watercraft inspectors, county commissioners, and aquatic invasive species (AIS) specialists listened as a Lake Koronis guide discussed the ecological and economic impacts of starry stonewort on the area.

Starry stonewort is an invasive algae that forms dense mats on the lake bed — sometimes reaching the surface, choking out native plants, disrupting fish habitat, and interfering with navigation and recreation.

AIS Detectors James Wooton and Kevin Farnum shared the impacts of starry stonewort in economic terms: “We don’t want you dealing with what we are dealing with here,” Farnum said. “Management is costly, and it’s constant.” Treatment could cost upward of $100,000 per year for managing the algae on one lake.

The group visited three sites: The public water access where starry stonewort was first discovered in 2015, a private residence, and a marina. Plant racks were thrown to collect samples where tour attendees could examine the algae up close.

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Commissioner Lee Rogness attended the tour and shared his takeaways at the recent county board meeting. “I came away from the tour with an appreciation for our AIS crew,” he said. “I think we have a good handle on this and good leadership in the field. This is a reminder for us to be vigilant on AIS in our county.”

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Otter Tail County watercraft inspectors examine a starry stonewort specimen.
Contributed / Otter Tail County

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