The goal of my Extension program is to increase capacity to prevent and respond to spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) in Minnesota, with a focus on invasive macrophytes (vascular plants and macroalgae) in Minnesota's lakes and wetlands.
The AIS Detectors program trains citizen volunteers to serve as “eyes on the water” for AIS early detection and rapid response (www.aisdetectors.org). Early detection is one of the most important means for responding effectively to new invasions. But the number of professionals tasked with managing AIS is a drop in the bucket relative to Minnesota’s nearly 12,000 lakes, >100,000 miles of streams, and >9 million acres of wetlands. To address this gap, we have developed AIS Detectors to empower citizens to contribute to AIS identification and response.
Starry Trek is an outgrowth of AIS Detectors that engages citizen volunteers and AIS professionals in an annual, statewide, single-day search for the invasive characean alga starry stonewort (Nitellopsis obtusa) (www.maisrc.umn.edu/starrytrek). In our first event (Aug. 5, 2017), Starry Trek volunteers discovered a new population of starry stonewort in Grand Lake (Stearns Co.), enabling a rapid response effort by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Grand Lake Association. In Starry Trek's second year, volunteers found starry stonewort in Wolf Lake (Hubbard/Beltrami Co.) and recorded new detections of zebra mussels and Eurasian watermilfoil in two additional lakes. This event is held in collaboration with University of Wisconsin Extension's AIS Snapshot Day and in partnership with the Minnesota DNR.
MnPhrag is an early detection and response effort targeting invasive European genotypes of the wetland grass Phragmites australis (common reed) in Minnesota (www.maisrc.umn.edu/phragmites). Our goal is to catalyze and support landscape-scale, strategic management of Phragmites through distribution mapping, investigation of spread potential, and co-development of response strategies with resource managers.