By WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The invasive algae starry stonewort has been confirmed in northern Minnesota’s Leech Lake.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says a company removing plants near Anderson’s Cove Resort in Steamboat Bay reported seeing the plant around the marina and under boats. A specialist later confirmed that what they found was the invasive species.

Starry Stonewort (credit: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources)

While starry stonewort can look similar to native plants, it forms dense mats of vegetation in the water, taking resources from native plants and creating headaches for boaters and other lake-goers.

During the summer months, starry stonewort can be noticed by its white star-shaped bulbils. Anyone who sees the plant in other parts of Leech Lake is asked to contact the DNR here.

Much of Leech Lake is in the boundaries of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. The DNR says it’s working with the band, local property owners and state officials to discuss management options going forward.

While starry stonewort has never been successfully eliminated from any lake in the United States, there are ways to manage the plant. Officials say that state funds are available for immediate responses.

Starry stonewort has now been confirmed in 18 Minnesota lakes. Among them are Cass Lake and Lake Winnibigoshish, which are both near Leech Lake.

The DNR says that the invasive plant is most likely spread when fragments of starry stonewort have not been properly cleaned from docks, boats and other watercraft.