Wild Rice Restoration in Allouez Bay
Historically, wild rice provided an important food and cultural component for Native American tribes including the Ojibwa, Menomonee, and Dakota. Early Wisconsin explorers described abundant wild rice beds that hindered their travel on many waterways. Wild rice is also a source of nutrition to various mammals and bird species. Besides nutritious food, the rice beds provide roosting and resting areas to adult birds and essential brood cover for their young. Declines in historic wild rice beds have occurred statewide due to many factors, including dams, pollution, large boat wakes, and invasive plant species. Renewed interest in the wild rice community has led to large-scale restoration efforts to reintroduce wild rice in Wisconsin's landscape.
A remnant stand of wild rice exists in the heart of Allouez Bay, though it is sparse and scattered. Allouez Bay adjacent to Wisconsin Point is a diverse coastal wetland and its habitats support large numbers of fish, waterfowl, mammals. The area may be an excellent site for a wild rice restoration project.Wild rice seeding activities occurred in two areas covering 4 acres during the fall of 2010 and spring of 2011. Small protective exclosures (20m X 20m) were installed to evaluate the browsing pressure from geese, muskrats and carp. Results depicted heavy browsing pressure, with the only viable seed production occurring in the exclosures.