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State grant funding will help restore Wild Rice in Michigan

Courtesy of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.
Michigan's wild rice is considered the state's most culturally and ecologically significant native plants.

State funds have been granted to continue preserving and restoring wild rice across Michigan. The money comes as development and climate change are threating the native plants.

For centuries, native American tribes in Michigan have used wild rice for food and medicine. The plant also helps maintain water quality in the wetlands where it lives.

“It's been important for food, for medicine," said Danielle Fegan, an assessment biologist for the Sault Sainte Marie tribe of Chippewa Indians and member of the tribe. "And it's also an important member of aquatic communities.”

The $100,000 grant will go towards more coordinated research efforts and better restoration planning for wild rice. It will also help facilitate a state-wide collaboration known as the Wild Rice Initiative, headed by the University of Michigan's Water Center.

The restoration efforts also include Michigan’s 12 federally recognized tribes.

Fegan also said that Michigan's wild rice beds face a number of challenges.

“Development has played a big role in the declines of these beds," said Fegan. "For instance, in the Great Lakes, changes to hydrology have had a huge impact.”

The grant will help better coordinate research efforts and give stakeholders more time to plan restoration projects for wild rice preservation and helps advance priorities made in the 2016 Michigan Water Strategy.

Rick joined WCMU as a general assignment reporter in March 2022.
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