Restoring Wild Rice in Green Bay

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) – A native aquatic plant missing from the Bay of Green Bay is set to return.

At a boat launch in Howard, one thousand pounds of wild rice is ready to be seeded in waters it disappeared from decades ago.

“Somewhere around the 60’s and 70’s is when we lost rice from the lower part of Green Bay. Since then we’ve done some studies to look at what source is left in there, and we found very little — cattail, phragmites, cottonwood — so we know that if we don’t do anything that wild rice is never going to come back,” says Brian Glenzinski, Ducks Unlimited Regional Biologist.

Thanks to state and federal grants totaling more than $700,000, Ducks Unlimited is leading the effort to restore natural habitat in the bay, including wild rice.

Recent test plots show the rice and grow and flourish, thanks to improvements in water clarity and erosion control.

“The Cat Island chain certainly is providing that wave barrier that will help us establish wild rice and provide the calm water it needs to get going there, but we’re looking to put wild rice in on coastal marshes all the way up the Green Bay west shores. We’ll be doing that for three years in a row, seeding about 50 pounds per acre, and we’ll hopefully get that established in areas where it’ll expand,” says Glenzinski.

Glenzinski says wild rice is a great food source for water fowl and will be another step towards returning the bay to its native state.

“The potential in the Green Bay area to restore habitat and to work off of what’s already here is tremendous,” says Glenzinski.