Environmental Restoration


Robin Shepard
University of Wisconsin -Extension
(608) 262-1748

Patrick Robinson
University of Wisconsin-Extension
Green Bay, WI 54311-7001
(920) 465-2175

CSREES National Theme -
Environmental Restoration


multi-state support for wild rice in the upper great lakes regionupdated!

Capital According to oral tradition, Anishinaabeg prophets foretold that the people should journey westward from the east coast until they found
“the food that grows on water.”
Their journey ultimately led them to the wild rice beds of the Upper Great Lakes. Wild rice, or manoomin as the Anishinaabeg call it, has been a central component of the culture of indigenous people in the region for thousands of years.

Wild rice (Zizania spp.) is a native aquatic plant in the Upper Great Lakes Region, which includes the states of Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. This shallow water plant is of great importance to the ecology of many lakes and streams. It is also native grain with important cultural value to the indigenous people of the Upper Great Lakes Region. Unfortunately, wild rice populations have declined throughout much of the plant’s historic range, due in large part to human impacts. Achieving a long-term goal of regional, sustainable wild rice populations requires a multi-state effort that includes engaged, long-term partnerships, coordination, and cooperation.

This initiative builds bridges between a diverse group including tribes, universities, agencies, non-profit organizations, communities and private interests in the Upper Great Lakes.
A primary goal is improved regional understanding of both the biophysical and human dimensions of the issues related to sustaining wild rice. Building on past work in this area, including a regional conference and the formation of a Native Wild Rice Coalition and Wild Rice Camp, the focus in 2008 was to disseminate the Wild Rice Camp model regionally. Participants learned about Anishinaabeg wild rice and Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). Preliminary results show that this being is incorporated into tribal education curricula and community programming.

Download Wild Rice Brochure

Wild rice camp instructor demonstrating birch bark basket making.


Patrick Robinson
University of Wisconsin-Extension
(920) 465-2175

Deborah Zak
University of Minnesota Extension
(218) 281-8684

Scott Herron
Ferris State University
(231) 591-2087

expanding the national estuarine research reserve program
in the great lakes region

Great Lakes freshwater estuaries are unique coastal landforms that occur where river and Great Lakes water mix in shallow wetlands located near the mouth of a river. Great Lakes communities have developed adjacent to freshwater estuaries because of their importance as sources of water, food, and navigation. The National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) System is a nation-wide network of protected coastal estuaries that are designated and supported through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The NERR program integrates research, outreach, and stewardship activities related to estuary resources, including Great Lakes freshwater estuary resources. NERR sites represent a partnership between federal and state governments that often leverage substantial additional resources. Currently, the only Great Lakes freshwater estuary NERR site is Old Woman Creek on Lake Erie in Ohio.

A view of the St. Louis River estuary in Wisconsin.On May 30th, 2008, Wisconsin’s Governor Doyle announced the nomination of the St. Louis River freshwater estuary for NERR designation. The St. Louis River freshwater estuary, situated on the border between Wisconsin and Minnesota, is located at the headwaters of the Great lakes. The river represents the largest United States tributary to one of the world’s largest freshwater resources. The development of a freshwater estuary NERR site at the headwaters of the Great Lakes will create a platform for future regional collaborative research and outreach related to freshwater estuary systems, the Great Lakes, and coastal resources. This research and outreach could have significant benefit to the entire Great Lakes Region.


Patrick Robinson
University of Wisconsin-Extension
(920) 465-2175