Minnegram Fall 2020
Protecting Manoomin: Tribal-UMN partnership prioritizes Indigenous knowledge to study and learn from wild rice
by Mae Davenport, Michael Dockry, Gene-Hua Crystal Ng, and Emily Green
Early fall means wild rice harvesting season for many people in Minnesota and around the western Great Lakes. Manoomin (Ojibwe)/ Psiη (Dakota) / Zizania palustris (Latin/scientific) is a highly nutritious native grass that has long grown in shallow waterways throughout the Great Lakes region. To the Ojibwe tribes across the region it is a sacred food, medicine, and gift from the Creator, which they have stewarded, hand-harvested, and processed for millennia. Manoomin is also a highly sensitive species. Its range and abundance have been in decline because of multiple stressors including disturbed hydrology, nutrient loads, land use change and climate change. It is nearly gone in Michigan, and an estimated one-third of Manoomin stands have disappeared across Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Like many annual events, this year’s Soil Management Summit (SMS), formerly known as the Conservation Tillage Conference or CTC, has had to make the transition from in-person to online.
The SMS planning committee wanted to ensure the health and wellbeing of participants, vendors, and everyone else involved in the summit's production while maintaining the high standard of programmatic content the event has provided over the years. As the COVID-19 situation has evolved, the committee made the decision that this event will be offered online only.
Minnesota Sea Grant's Amy Schrank moved into the WRC offices just in time to stay at home for the COVID-19 shut down. Minnegram recently checked in to see how Schrank was navigating research and collaboration during the pandemic.
Information about the amount of water stored in the surface waters, soil, and groundwater systems on earth is valuable to water resource managers. Decisions on water allocations rest on assumptions or assessments of the availability of water in these different storage zones. The forecasting of the near-future states of the hydrologic system is dependent on estimates of water storage amounts. For instance, the occurrence of floods results when there is too much water in storage, and hydrologic droughts occur when there is too little water in storage.
When the COVID-19 shutdown stretched into weeks with no clear end, staff at the Onsite Sewage Treatment Program (OSTP) moved nimbly to adapt their programming. This has included offering synchronous and asynchronous online workshops, hybrid classes with online training and in-person field sessions, and fully in-person trainings with reduced class sizes and additional safety protocols.