Posts tagged: water quality

Water Quality

By , August 26, 2012

Miner’s Lake outside Ely. Sulfide level 21

Lake Superior south shore. Sulfide level 0

Wherever we traveled students took water samples to track the health of the water. Based on our continued study of the St. Louis River watershed through River Watch activities. Tests were conducted to determine dissolved oxygen, pH, nitrates, phosphates, and biochemical oxygen demand.

Miner’s Lake when it was an active mine supplied  WWI  and WWII with iron ore. Currently the pit is about 140 feet deep. Water naturally filled the hole in once the mining was done. Today it is a great fishing lake.

 

Invasive Species – Great Lakes Superior Aquarium

By , August 26, 2012

Invasive Species Game

Terminology

Educational displays at Aquarium

Keeping our water and land free of invasive species takes all of us doing our part. Considering what we dump into the waterways and ground before hand can make all the difference.

Visiting the Great Lakes Aquarium helped  us learn more about native vs. invasive fresh water aquatic plants and fish. Through games students simulated how aquatic invasive plants and fish change the natural balance. They either eat too much of a plant needed by another native fish or grow too fast overtaking other plants that would typically grow in that environment. Any change affects everything. Eventually the native species can not compete and either die away or move.

It was particularly interesting to learn that gold fish dumped into a small pond negatively affects the pond tremendously. Goldfish eat a lot, changing the vegetation and ability for other animals to breed and grow. If you have a goldfish and are unable to care for it it is best to give it to someone else to take care of rather than a near by pond. A pond near to UMD had to be drained completely , cleaned and refilled because of the  of gold fish population taking over the native species and the connection of the pond stream feeding into Lake Superior.

Bad River Fishery

By , August 26, 2012

Release Tanks at Fishery, Bad River Reservation, Odanah, WI

About 2,000 Coastal Brook Trout are raised from eggs and released when a year old into rivers and streams.

The health of our water and land was part of each lesson and activity. While visiting in Odanah we toured the reservations fishery. The fishery raises Walleye and Coastal Brook Trout from eggs for up to 7 years and then releases them. Each tank held a specific species and age of fish.

Lake Superior shore near Ashland

We also spent time swimming in Lake Superior. As expected it was cold and refreshing.

 

niibin 2012 – Bad River to Bois Forte

By , August 26, 2012

Students visited Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC- Odanah, WI) to learn more about Ojibwe language and culture, current tribal management of the water and land uses and reacquaint and reestablish ourselves as needed concerning our treaty rights as Indian people to hunt and gather.

 

It was a week of connecting what we know about the areas in Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Wisconsin and Michigan where Ojibwe people have lived for generations. We added to our knowledge by traveling southeast to the Bad River Reservation in Odanah, WI and as far north as the Bois Forte Reservation in northern Minnesota. Between the bus rides students studied the geology of the land, collected water samples for testing, swam in lakes, read books, wrote reflections/took notes and enjoyed each other as family and friends.

At the Bois Forte Museum students walked through displays describing  the history of the Ojibwe people traveling east to the place where the wild rice grew. Government boarding schools and traditional life clashed bringing with it continued years of struggle for generations to follow. Loss of language and culture, family groups broken and a lack of understanding between peoples concerning land and water use contributed to our current state and the established reservation system of government. Elders spoke about what we have been through and encouraged the young people to become knowledgeable to carry on.

“Indians lives in family groups and villages. We were not identified by a particular place and never imagined that land could belong to individuals. When the settlers arrived the government gave us names according to where our villages happened to be. They put us on reservations, forbade out traditions and ignored our reverence for the land.

I like to describe the Ojibwe and Fur Trade partnership as an  “economic cooperation”. Indians became part of the newly created global industrial  economy as producers, consumers, and traders. They were participants in that world even before many Europeans.” 
~Carl Gawboy, Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe

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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