Wild rice grows again in the St. Louis River. The problem now is geese


Alex Kormann, Star Tribune

Wild Rice Monitor Katie Marsaa gently paddled towards a flock of geese to scare them away and out of the St. Louis River estuary The St. Louis River Alliance is working hard to keep stands of wild rice healthy in the estuary near Duluth. Canada geese love to eat the wild rice once it's bloomed which destroys it throughout the estuary.

In a stark turnaround that's one of the state's great environmental successes, the St. Louis River can now produce bountiful bays of wild rice. Or it would, if the geese would leave it alone.

"They're like little lawn mowers," said Terry Perrault, lead technician for the Fond du Lac Band of Chippewa. "They don't fly, they wade in with their little goslings and just feed. We have to keep chasing them, but they just jump to a bank and hide. They come right back. They're very smart and hungry."

The restoration of relatively large and self-sustaining pockets of wild rice is one of several benchmarks to remove the St. Louis River from one of the Midwest's most ignominious lists - as a federal area of concern along the Great Lakes. After hundreds of millions of dollars spent and 36 years of dredging and removing toxic soils and waste, a finish line is in sight for the northeastern Minnesota waterway.



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