Project: Wild Rice
This article originally appeared in Wisconsin Waterfowl Association’s October, 2022 Newsletter edition.
Wild Rice plays a critical role for migratory birds in Wisconsin. Anyone who hunts wild rice knows the draw it is for ducks. Let me tell you from personnel experience, a rice bed is a good place to hunt ducks. WWA has been doing wild rice restoration for over a decade in Wisconsin. With high demand, and being at the mercy of Mother Nature’s bounty, some years it gets tough to find enough rice for all the potential restoration projects. This year, and into the future, WWA, WDNR and Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) are coordinating their efforts to prioritize high quality sites. This will get available rice were it is most beneficial among the leading organizations doing wild rice restoration.
The need is there, but the availability of rice is not always. Sometimes it’s a down year for production due to weather conditions affecting the water bodies where rice grows. The other main issue is availability to secure rice due to lack of vendors. There are very few individuals outside the native tribes that collect rice. WWA is looking to see how we can bolster this side of the equation, and that is where you, as our members, can become involved. If there is any interest in learning how to collect rice for WWA’s wild rice restoration projects, let me know. We are looking at getting additional boats in the water to see if we can increase the availability of green wild rice for restoration needs in the state.
Last week WWA sourced ~1,100 pounds of rice, which was then distributed to three sites. Powell Marsh in Vilas County, Crex Meadows in Burnett County and Collins Marsh in Manitowoc County all received wild rice that was locally collected in northern Wisconsin. All three of these sites were in their second or third year of seeding, which is important timing for establishing a healthy stand, and we did not want to miss a year. A host of other sites were planted under the guidance of GLIFWC and its member tribes, which were also deemed priority waters for restoration.