WAPOA attends invasive species conference

St Cloud Aquatic Invasive Species Conference

Even though seasonal visitors have largely left the lakes area, the work of WAPOA continues.

Six WAPOA leaders and members attended the second annual statewide Aquatic Invasive Species Conference in St. Cloud in early October.

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Dan Larkin, a researcher at the University of Minnesota Invasive Species Research Center, speaks to the conference about his work with starry stonewort, a new and very aggressive plant-like algae. He is testing the effect of various chemicals on the stonewort to find what best might be used to control it. It will be a daunting task.

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l-r, Joe Brodil and Jim Brandt of WAPOA deciding during a break which of the 4 concurrent teaching sessions to attend next. Six members of the WAPOA Board and active membership were at the 2-day conference.

Sharing the most up-to-date information about aquatic invasive species were speakers from  the University of Minnesota Invasive Species Research Center, the Minnesota and Wisconsin Departments of Natural Resources, the National Park Service, commercial applicators, US Geological Survey, Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, and others.

Starry stonewort, an invasive algae that was not on any Minnesotan’s radar a year ago, was discussed often at this year’s conference.

The first appearance in Minnesota of the invasive starry stonewort in August 2015 resulted in University of Minnesota researchers starting to work on investigations related to it. The DNR also was tasked with figuring out how to handle this new (to Minnesota) invasive.

As of this writing starry stonewort has been found in 9 Minnesota lakes, seemingly centered in the St. Cloud and the Bemidji areas.

It is an unresolved challenge. Mechanical and chemical removal has not been able to eliminate it. It springs back within  a few weeks after treatments.  Researchers say there is still  much more to learn about it.

Among the most useful presentations for lake associations at the conference was an “on the spot” description by DNR AIS specialist Nicole Covar of how she managed the recent Turtle Lake invasion of starry stonewort.

Equally compelling was the presentation by the Kevin Farnum of the Lake Koronis Association. He was very involved with treating the first starry stonewort invasion in the state. He has raised and plans to spend over $800,000 in the next 3 years fighting it.

There were over 60 speakers and 20 sessions to cover . We split up to cover as many presentations as possible.

The two days was well worth it as we listened to the latest developments in invasive species prevention, best management practices, and control.