The Wild Rice Stewardship Council—Supporting SF 2329
Yesterday, Conservation Minnesota testified in support of SF 2329, legislation to create and fund a “Wild Rice Stewardship Council.” Minnesota's wild rice acts as an indicator species that provides valuable wildlife forage and habitat and can be indicative of water quality. We support this bill to elevate the statewide discussion about wild rice. Below is the letter we submitted in support.
March 13, 2019
To Chair Ingebrigsten and the Senate Environment & Natural Resources Finance Committee,
I write to support Senator Eichorn and this committee as they consider SF 2329, a bill to elevate the statewide discussion about wild rice. A group like the Wild Rice Stewardship Council proposed in SF 2329 could be uniquely situated to develop a comprehensive, statewide management plan for wild rice—something Conservation Minnesota fully supports.
The Wild Rice Stewardship Council could be uniquely designed to help state regulatory agencies collect valuable research about wild rice. Just from discussions within this chamber during the last few legislative sessions, we know there are questions about wild rice production related to levels of iron, sulfate, or organic carbon in the surrounding aquatic environment. SF 2329 appropriates funding to the Department of Natural Resources that could be used to help pay for new research to help us better understand what makes wild rice thrive.
I know that many Minnesotans value wild rice as an indicator species that provides valuable wildlife forage, habitat, and can be indicative of water quality. Historically, the naturally occurring range of wild rice included nearly the entire state of Minnesota. The Wild Rice Stewardship Council could help put into perspective some of the reasons wild rice is no longer found across the state, and what we can do to ensure in the regions where wild rice is still found, it can thrive for generations to come.
The education, promotion, and outreach efforts from the Governor and the legislature proposed in SF 2329 can ensure that events like Wild Rice Week provide value to Minnesotans in all corners of the state. One suggestion I have for Senator Eichorn and the committee is to consider enhancing representation from Minnesota’s 11 Tribal Nations on the Wild Rice Stewardship Council. Members of Minnesota’s Tribal Nations have been ricing for centuries, and the usufructuary rights held by Tribal Members gives them a unique perspective that would be valuable for the Wild Rice Stewardship Council.
Thank you to Senator Eichorn for bringing this important issue forward and I am happy to answer any questions you have as this bill moves forward.