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Outdoor Notes for May 19

Starry stonewort, an aquatic invasive species, found in Cass Lake. Photo courtesy of the Minnesota DNR.

'Water Connects Us All' conference coming to Northern Lights Casino

WALKER—On June 17-18 Cass County will host a gathering of lake leaders and public officials from across Minnesota to address various critical issues facing the state's natural resources, while also exploring possible partnership solutions at the Northern Lights Casino in Walker, Minn.. Minnesota DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen will deliver the plenary over lunch on June 18. That afternoon there will be a number of field trips to see nearby projects that Cass County and their partners have accomplished to protect Cass County's precious lakes and rivers.

The event is part of Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Advocates 25th Anniversary year celebration, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to protect water and provide lakeshore owners, anglers and others ways to safeguard recreation and property, plus the various industries and communities tied to Minnesota's natural resources that total over $12 billion annually.

Tickets for the two-day event, including meals, are $30. They are available to members of MLR, MN COLA (Minnesota Coalition of Lake Associations, or ACCL (Association of Cass County Lakes) on the MLR website at www.mnlakesandrivers.org.

"All progress on water issues is due to partnerships," said Jeff Forester, executive director of Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Advocates, in a news release. "And this event, in particular, celebrates the great partners in Cass County.

The evening of June 17, participants will also celebrate the founding of MLR in 1994. The nonprofit was originally formed by a group of cabin owners on Lake Vermilion who were concerned that rapidly escalating property tax pressure would soon make a place at the lake unaffordable for the average Minnesotan.

"Heritage has always driven our mission," Forester explained. "But now, if we want to protect family time at the lake, we need to address a lot of issues including pollution, changing water temperature and hydrology, fisheries issues and, of course, aquatic invasive species."

The morning of June 18 will feature a showcase of some of the many programs and projects lake associations have initiated across Minnesota, and the partnerships they have built to protect the resources in their care. Forester noted "this event is intended to build civic infrastructure around water in Minnesota. The partners who helped host this event are a case in point. All contributed to making this event happen."

The partners are: Cass County Environmental Services, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Northern Lights Casino, Minnesota DNR, Pine River Watershed Alliance, MN COLA and The Pine River Watershed Alliance.

"We are really excited to bring people from across the state to shine a light on the projects, partnerships and efforts being done by our lake associations in Cass County to protect lakes, and to learn about the good work others are doing as well, that we might be able to implement in the future," said Linda Blake, President of the Association of Cass County Lakes, in a news release.

"Linda Blake and the ACCL have been a crucial partner and lead organizer in making this event this happen," Forester added. " Cass County is a real leader in water protection, and we are extremely grateful to the people in the county, and the many professional resource managers and policy makers, for not only hosting the rest of the state's lake advocates, but for providing a blueprint to so many innovative and forward-thinking programs and policies."

For more information, or to interview Jeff Forester of Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Advocates and or others, contact Martin Keller, Media Savant Communications, at 612-729-8585 or by email at mkeller@mediasavantcom.com.

DNR continues aggressive starry stonewort management

As the 2019 fishing and boating season gets underway, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is continuing and expanding a multi-faceted approach to combating the spread of starry stonewort, an aquatic invasive species.

The agency is issuing permits for pilot projects, working with local governments and lake associations, and partnering with researchers to limit starry stonewort in Minnesota after it was first confirmed in the state in 2015. This first confirmation was in Lake Koronis in Stearns County.

"Our main goals are to help prevent spread to other lakes, suppress starry stonewort in the 13 Minnesota lakes where it has been confirmed, reduce the recreational impacts and learn more about how we can control it," said Heidi Wolf, DNR invasive species program supervisor.

Efforts include control of starry stonewort using hand removal, equipment, and copper herbicide treatments; evaluating the relative effectiveness of these methods; learning more about the biology of starry stonewort; working with lake associations and volunteer groups for early detection and monitoring; and educating boaters and anglers about how to prevent spreading starry stonewort and other invasive species. The DNR formed a starry stonewort guidance group in 2017 to review, permit and evaluate control projects.

Monitoring and research efforts have led to important new information:

• Starry stonewort may double or triple in size within two to three years in a lake, once it becomes well established.

• Hand removal by divers in small, localized areas appears to be effective, if done carefully. Repeated hand-pulling efforts or follow-up copper treatments may be necessary. Similar to other invasive plants in Minnesota, starry stonewort requires management on an annual basis if suppression is the goal.

• Repeat copper treatments can reduce abundance and slow spread in a given season. Most native plant communities have seen minimal impacts from copper treatments, though a native type of algae that looks similar to starry stonewort, Chara, has been damaged by treatments.

The DNR's partners in these efforts include the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center, the AIS Detectors group through University of Minnesota Extension, Minnesota Sea Grant, Wildlife Forever, lake associations and Minnesota counties with invasive species prevention programs.

Starry stonewort is an alga that looks similar to other native plants and can form dense mats, which can interfere with use of a lake and compete with native plants. It is most likely spread when fragments have not been properly cleaned from trailered boats, personal watercraft, docks, boat lifts, anchors or other water-related equipment.

The DNR reminds boaters and anglers to follow Minnesota laws to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species:

• Clean aquatic plants and animals from watercraft.

• Drain all water by removing drain plugs and keep drain plugs out while transporting watercraft.

• Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.

Some invasive species are small and difficult to see at the access. To remove or kill them, take one or more of the following precautions before moving to another waterbody, especially after leaving infested waters:

• Spray with high-pressure water.

• Rinse with very hot water (120 degrees for at least two minutes or 140 degrees for at least 10 seconds).

• Dry for at least five days.

MPCA needs nearly 700 volunteers to conduct water monitoring at high-priority sites

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency today announced its need for volunteers to monitor water quality in the state's more than 12,000 lakes and more than 92,000 miles of streams and rivers. The MPCA needs volunteers to measure water clarity in hundreds of streams — including 676 high-priority sites — and 2,857 lakes, then report back to the agency.

MPCA Citizen Water Monitoring volunteers do a simple water clarity test twice a month during the summer. Lake monitors boat to a designated spot to check water clarity. Stream monitors perform their test from the streambank or from a bridge over the stream. The MPCA provides equipment and training and no prior experience is needed.

Data gathered by volunteers extends the agency's reach and complements the MPCA's intensive water monitoring around the state. In some cases, the information gathered by volunteers is the only monitoring done on a lake or stream.

"Our volunteers allow us to get more coverage by collecting water quality data in more places. Their work is invaluable to us, and yet they do it for free!" says Katrina Kessler, MPCA's Assistant Commissioner for water. The volunteers are also enthusiastic about the program.

"It's one of the best volunteer opportunities there is," according to Michael Brinda, a volunteer monitor on Lake Harriet in Minneapolis.

In a new video, you can hear from Michael and other MPCA water monitoring volunteers about their experiences. Some like having a good excuse to get out on the water. Others enjoy doing their testing as a family, to spark an appreciation for the environment in their kids.

To learn more and sign up, visit the MPCA's Citizen Water Monitoring webpage, or call 651-296-6300 or 800-657-3864. Find out which bodies of water need volunteers with an interactive map. Download high-res images of MPCA water monitoring volunteers from the MPCA Flickr account.

Lakeshore Conservation Club open house is May 26

Lakeshore Conservation Club is hosting an open house 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on May 26.

Events for the entire family include trap, skeet, 5-stand, and Annie Oakley shoots. Join the club's Board of Directors for lunch featuring pulled pork sandwiches.

Gull Lake Glass for sponsoring a youth drawing (16 and under) for a Daisy Grizzly Single Pump Air Rifle.

Door prizes and the winner of the air rifle will be announced at the end of the day. You need not be present to win.