The St. Louis River Estuary historically
was probably one of the largest wild rice beds that existed. It is a
keystone species both culturally and ecologically. In the first drawn map of
the area in 1825 it was written in the subscript, “Wild Rice and Rushes line
the banks of the River”, and you can see the drawing in the map all the areas
that were filled with wild rice. And besides having that map, we have stories
about that, because there’s a lot of oral histories that are passed down,
particularly for Ojibwe folks who migrated here because of wild rice being
here. A huge part of this estuary being a functional ecosystem and also a place
where people love to come and play is restoring wild rice. There’s a lot of
specific research that could be done as a part of a holistic approach to
understanding what’s needed. From a big picture perspective we need
to have a clear idea of what’s holding back our wild rice restoration efforts.
Why haven’t they been successful yet? Before we can move ahead to seeing the
benefits of those restoration efforts— and we need somebody who can look at all
of these pieces, delve into some of them, and really summarize it well and
communicate it with the people we work with.