College News

UW-Green Bay community restores wild rice to conserve aquatic wildlife

To improve ecosystems and strengthen coastal wetland habitats, the UW-Green Bay community help seed the lower Green Bay with wild rice.

Image By: Courtesy of Creative Commons

Now in its third year, UW-Green Bay is participating in a restoration project that seeds wild rice in various sites of the bay to improve ecosystems and strengthen coastal wetland habitats.

Enthusiastic volunteers and professionals from UW-Extension, Ducks Unlimited, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources along with UW-Green Bay researchers and students formed a partnership to reestablish 2,000 pounds of rice.

Six conservation boats set out toward the Lower Green Bay area to spread the rice over 19 acres in hopes of germination and providing a potential food source for wildlife.

"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 Jane Arneson, a UW-Green Bay graduate student.

There are many aquatic species that travel to the Bay in search of food and will leave if there is nothing there for them. In an attempt to feed these fish, volunteers make the trek through 38-degree temperatures and tempestuous winds.

Wild rice serves not only a crucial food source for waterfowl and fish but also carries cultural significance within Native American traditions.

“Wild rice was dominant here at one time, it was extirpated through a whole bunch of causes from water quality issues, to invasive species. This is an effort to bring wildlife back to an environment where it once dominated,” said Brian Glenzinski, a Ducks Unlimited regional biologist.

Experts are already seeing results only after a few days into the volunteers' contributions to fall migration and ecological diversity.

"We have had some of the 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," Glenzinski said.

The planting will end on Nov. 9.

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