Project aims to bring wild rice back to Wisconsin

Associated Press

HOWARD, Wis. (AP) — Federal, state and local groups have formed a partnership in Wisconsin to start a restoration project to help wild rice grow.

A team of conservation professionals and volunteers from the UW-GB,  along with the UW-Extension, Ducks Unlimited, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, WI DNR and others, seeded 2,000 lbs. of wild rice at various sites in the bay of Green Bay in early November.  This year marks the third year of the seeding effort as part of the restoration project, informed by the UW-Green Bay aquatic vegetation research in lower Green Bay.

Crews went out this month to spread more rice, WLUK-TV reported .

"This is the right time of the year to seed wild rice. We try to get it out there this time of year in hopes it will germinate and be ready for next spring," said Betsy Galbraith, a biologist with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Crews spread one ton of wild rice over 19 acres in an area of Lower Green Bay called Peters Marsh, she said.

"It's important to wear gloves. The seeds can be pretty sharp. And we just launch it over the side of the boat," said Galbraith.

Wild rice used to flourish in the area and the project aims to re-establish the crop, she said.

"It's great for nesting, for cover for fish. It's a good food source for waterfowl that migrate through," Galbraith said.

The planting project is in its third year and rice is beginning to grow in some areas, experts said.

"We have had some of most challenging conditions down south. And as we move further up north on Green Bay's west shore, we get into better habitat and we're seeing success out there," said Brian Glenzinski, a biologist with Ducks Unlimited Regional.

Wild rice benefits waterfowl as an important food source during fall migration and contributes to fish nursery habitat anSeeding 2016d ecological diversity in coastal wetlands.

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay graduate students are also providing research as part of the project.

"Looking at the various biological factors that we have been measuring all summer, and comparing them between our seeded sites and see which sites are doing better," said Jade Arneson, graduate student at UW-Green Bay.