niibin 2011 GLIFWC Visit – Bad River Reservation, Odanah WI

By , June 14, 2011

GLIFWC stands for Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission.  Our first presentation was by Peter David, a wildlife biologist who studies and manages manoomin.  His presentation was an overview of manoomin and the role GLIFWC has in managing it.  Wild rice is an annual aquatic grass that grows well at depths of 0.5-3 ft in water that is not too acidic or dark-stained in an organic-rich substrate.  It prefers water that changes depth some annually and slow moving water.  We learned that one reason it prefers these conditions partially because otherwise the perennial plants will take over.  The big seed variety of wild rice only occurs in the MN, Western WI, and Hudson Bay drainage areas.  Wild rice grows naturally in other areas, but it has smaller seeds.  Wild rice is great healthy eating, but also has huge cultural and ecological benefits too.  We learned about the treaties and how the right to harvest rice falls under these treaties.  Also, we reviewed harvesting techniques, both past and present. GLIFWC has five goals related to wild rice: abundance monitoring, harvest monitoring, restoration, public information and education, and research.  Mostly we discussed abundance monitoring.  GLIFWC is responsible for ceded territory that is off-reservation.  The data collected is from this area.  We learned about how Brown Spot disease can wipe out entire lakes during unusually warm seasons.  The abundance graph of rice over the past 15 years or so has high and low spots.  Factors that influence the abundance of rice over a large area are the four-year cycle of abundance on a particular lake, temperature and weather conditions, disease, and water level conditions. When the abundance of rice falls off for more than two years, scientists and GLIFWC may study the lake to try to restore the rice population.  We learned about some case studies where beaver dams, man-made dams, and carp eating the rice were problems. Sometimes lakes need to be reseeded, but first they try to restore the local seeds.  Genetic variability of wild rice is a future area of research. Next, we talked to Wesley about language and culture projects.  We learned about Inaadiziwin, an interactive DVD with traditional hunting, gathering, and fishing with language and culture.  We decided as a group that spear fishing looks really interesting.  They are working on a new project interviewing elders.  We will be doing something similar with our project, so this was a good connection to make.  Another ranger spoke too about the importance of getting kids out doing traditional activities, especially since there is less interest and the elders are getting older.  He made us aware of internships related to science, but also law enforcement and firefighting. Finally, we watched a short video about treaty rights.  One interesting thing we learned was the only treaties that ensured hunting, fishing, and gathering rights off-reservation is in our area and in the NW US.

Manoomin students talk with Dr.Pastor about UMD’s Wild Rice Study

By , June 12, 2011

 Manoomin students visited the University of Duluth’s Agricultural Farm where Dr. Pastor and colleagues are conducting wild rice experiments. The initial study is observing the 4 year “boom & bust” cycle of wild rice growth as it relates to the nitrogen levels found in the lakes.  The researchers control the experiment by leaving or removing the spent hay and leaving or removing plants.  Some variables, like water level, are kept the same while others are monitored.  Examples of monitored variables are water chemistry, number of plants produced in a year, and the total weight of the spent hay at the end of the season.

The newest experiment is studying the affect of sulfur on wild rice growth. The study has been going on for two years and is now expanded for another 4-6 more years with larger samples of wild rice growing.  Sulfur levels of between 5mg/L and 300mg/L will be controlled as the wild rice grows over time. It is their goal to better answer the questions raised by the current legislature and sulfide mining companies concerning levels of sulfur in the water. Current law is based on an observational from 1940 which found that if sulfur levels were greater 10 mg/L the wild rice was not thriving or was not present.

Students are conducting their own study of the water along the St. Louis River, similar to the 1940 study. They hope to record water chemistry study including sulfur as it relates to the observed growth of wild rice growth along the river. Their data will be posted here once compiled.

Minnesota EPA Protection of Wild Rice

Protect Our Manoomin blog

Minnesta Public Radio reports about Dr. Pastor UMD Wild Rice Study and Sulphide Mining

Summary of Wild Rice Study – Pastor/UMD, Minnesota DNR

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