2017 Lake Vermilion AIS Sentry Project

With starry stonewort and hybrid watermilfoil making headlines in 2016, Vermilion Lake Association (VLA) volunteers will begin to monitor the vegetation at high-traffic public and private boat accesses in 2017. These volunteer “sentries” will each become very familiar with the native vegetation at one access throughout the season. They will be the first to notice a “newcomer” at their adopted access and will call on an AIS identification expert to determine what’s up.

Starry stonewort – a relative newcomer to Minnesota’s AIS roster – was found in 4 new counties and 7 new lakes, including Upper Red, Cass and Winnibigoshish, after its discovery in Lake Koronis in 2015. This grass-like macro algae can produce dense mats, can interfere with recreation, and can alter habitat for young fish.

Hybrid watermilfoil also made the news in 2016. Little is known about crosses between invasive Eurasian watermilfoil and our native Northern watermilfoil, but anecdotal reports suggest increased invasiveness and evidence of herbicide resistance. In Lake Vermilion, native watermilfoil co-exists with other native vegetation. We have no known Eurasian watermilfoil – an indication our habitat and water chemistry may not be suitable. However, at this point, no one knows whether certain “Eurasian x native” hybrids may overwhelm our native vegetation.

If a new invasive were to evade our inspection and boat-cleaning firewall, we rely on early detection to give us the best chance of eradication or control. Invariably, invasive vegetation becomes first established near the boat access where it was introduced.

Many resort, campground and marina businesses have volunteered to monitor their own docks as a Sentry. If you live close to a high-traffic public access which you would like to “adopt,” please contact Jeff Lovgren, Lake Vermilion AIS Prevention leader.

The VLA AIS team is working with Lake County SWCD, the Burntside Lake Association, and the Ely Area Invasives Team to develop a standardized process, classroom and in-field training, tools, and identification materials. The initial round of Sentry training is planned for June in the Vermilion area.

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