Lakes or Bathtubs?

Lakes or Bathtubs?

We say we love our lakes.  My question?  Which kind?  You will understand what I mean.

A recent anecdote has caused me to wonder.  A friend of mine was telling me about his lake place in northern Minnesota and opined about the stand of wild rice just off shore of his property.  Then came the shock.  He had been planning to remove the rice.  While one would hope such actions are illegal, his comment shook the bejeebbers out of me.

Why would anyone want to remove wild rice from a lake?  Esthetics? To improve the view?  For my friend, the answer was the view.  He wanted to look out over his lake and see a smooth water surface unbroken by the heads of “weeds”.

By contrast, the reasons not to destroy a rice stand are compelling.  Wild rice is richer in protein, vitamins, minerals, and an essential fatty acid than most common agriculture grains.  It is an extremely important food for water fowl and other inhabitants of shallow lakes.

Wild rice stands have declined markedly as we drained our wetlands and shallow lakes giving way to agriculture and development.  Instead of removing rice, conservation ethics would cry out—protect the beds!  Wild rice belongs in Minnesota lakes as much as walleyes and loons.

Now for the happy ending.  After reading my book, For Love of Lakes, and learning the importance of wild rice, my friend changed his mind.  He will not be destroying his lake’s wild rice bed.  My book saved a patch of wild rice.  Conservation happens!

Darby Nelson

2 Responses to Lakes or Bathtubs?

  1. Jack

    Good job, Darby. If only ALL riparian
    landowners would listen to the
    experts and not let their personal
    wants and needs prevail in their
    lake decision-making. After all, the
    lake is NOT theirs, but that of the
    public; thus, they are called
    public waters of the state. Unfor-
    tunately, there are too many folks
    that think “it is all about them”.

  2. John Helland

    Your book is helpful in so many ways, Darby. Hope the Minnesota river book is coming along nicely. I came across this resource on the web you may want to know about:
    “Cloudy Sky Waters: An Annotated Bibliography of the Minnesota River,”
    Society for the Study of Local and Regional History, Southwest State Center for Rural and Regional Studies, 2004.

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