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!