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Minnesota's wild rice season is open, if you can get to it

Low water helps the crop but may stifle canoe access for harvesters.

File: wild rice harvest
Two wild rice harvesters shove off with their canoe on Perch Lake near Sawyer as they begin a day of wild rice harvesting. Minnesota's wild rice havresting season is open, but access may be tough in some areas due to very low water levels caused by the drought. 2013 file / Duluth News Tribune

Usually low-water years are great for wild rice bumper crops and this year is no exception. But the water is so low in some areas now that harvesters may not be able to get access.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reminds harvesters that, while the ricing season opened Aug. 15 and runs to Sept. 30, it’s illegal to harvest any rice that is still green. Only rice that falls easily from the stalk may be harvested.

“While I’m hearing reports of good wild rice in some places this year, the hot and dry conditions that much of the state is experiencing means that rice stands are going to vary,” said Ricky Lien, DNR wetland habitat team supervisor. “People interested in harvesting wild rice should do some scouting, both to look for good stands of rice and to determine if they are accessible by boat. We know there are some waters that have good rice stands, but access to them might be a challenge due to low water levels.”

Resident licenses are $25 for a season or $15 for one day. Harvesters should check the DNR’s wild rice management page at dnr.state.mn.us/regulations/wildrice/index.html for license, regulation and safety information. Make sure to have a plan for processing your rice.

It is unlawful for most people to take wild rice grain from any of the waters within the original boundaries at the White Earth, Leech Lake, Nett Lake, Vermilion Lake, Grand Portage, Fond du Lac and Mille Lacs reservations. The exceptions to this are Native Americans and residents of the reservations listed.

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In addition, all nontribal members wishing to harvest or buy wild rice within the boundaries of the Leech Lake Reservation must have a Leech Lake Reservation permit.

Related Topics: NORTHLAND OUTDOORSDULUTH
John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at jmyers@duluthnews.com.
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