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Manoomin – The Good Berry
Twenty-three years ago, I canoed the upper Mississippi River for the first time. It was early October on a glorious blue-sky day with brightly colored fall foliage everywhere throughout the adjacent forests. Numerous and nearly impenetrable stands of cattails often blocked passage along the river’s channel, requiring me to carefully examine the current’s direction to learn which way to go.

Upon emerging from one such vegetation-chocked portion of the flowage, I was thrilled to once again see the coursing river channel that promised easy paddling and a much-needed reprieve. Instead of an endless wall of cattails, I was presented with the sight of tall golden grasses on both sides of the river swaying in the wind.

The Ojibwa called this life giving water-grass “manoomin”, which means “good berry.” So important was this food source to Minnesota’s indigenous people that many settlements were established nearby. Declared as Minnesota’s official state grain, the good berry is commonly known today as wild rice. In good years, one acre of wild rice can produce 500 pounds of grain. Native only to North America, wild rice can be found from Manitoba to Florida, but is most plentiful throughout the Great Lakes region.

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Alum project for Grand Lake St. Marys - A step toward improving water quality at Grand Lake St. Marys will occur this spring when an alum treatment will be applied to the entire lake. This treatment is part of Gov. John Kasich’s approach to improve Grand Lake St. Marys through rough fish removal, dredging, installation of a treatment train, wetland creation, watershed improvements, and other water quality initiatives.

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