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Wild rice and high water - A northern harvest under threat

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Northern Saskatchewan produces the majority of Canada’s wild rice.

"Wild rice is particular about where, when, and how it grows. The chemistry and acidity of the soil, sediment, and water matter, as do water levels. The plant grows in 60 to 120 centimetres of water, and while some natural water circulation is ideal, significant fluctuation in the water levels during the growing season is not.

“We’re very susceptible to high water...If it comes up at a certain time of the year, it drowns the wild rice. And we’ve had that more often lately. It might have something to do with climate change. I don’t know.” With more than 30 years of experience, Lynn Riese, a long-time wild rice grower and current chairperson of the Saskatchewan Wild Rice Council (SWRC), says he notices changes.

In the past, says Riese, heavy rains and high water would cause damage one year out of every five, on average. “It’s more like two years out of five now [that] we have problems with the higher water flooding, with the water coming up in our lakes.”

Dale Smith, a wild rice harvester, brought a motion to the 2013 Saskatchewan Wild Rice Council conference, proposing the SWRC oppose plans for the storage and transportation of nuclear waste in the northern region...The resolution passed unanimously.

Read the full article by Sandra Cuffe in briarpatch magazine