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Published by the Great Lakes Indian Fish Wildlife Commission Fall 2015 Mille Lacs Lake problems Its about the fish By Sue Erickson Staff Writer See Problems in Mille Lacs Lake page 4 The St. Louis River watershed provides an estimated 5 billion to 14 billion in ecosystem service benefits per year which provides each of the approximately 177 thousand people living in the watershed an annual benefit of 28248 to 79096. Healthy habitats provide people with countless benefits. Good food like wild rice and walleye medicines like sage and clean water filtered by wetlands the kidneys of the Earth. While these benefits are tangible and obvious to many of us they are often overlooked in discussions of the overall economy. When a large industrial operation is proposed like a mine or a concentrated animal feeding operation CAFO the analysis of economic impact centers on jobs that might be created or taxes that might be generated but not on the ecosystem goods and services that may be lost if the proposal moves forward. For example wetlands are constantly treating and purifying water at no cost to any of us. But if a mine destroys the wetland to dig a mine pit that free water treatment is lost and must be replaced by a water treatment plant that can cost millions of dollars a year to operate. This common scenario results in replacing a free service with a costly system that is not sustainable and may not be in our best interest. The St. Louis River has been named one of the ten most endangered rivers in the United States www.americanrivers.orgendangered-rivers2015-report st-louis-river. A major reason for this designation is the impact of taconite min- ing along the headwaters of the watershed. These mines have negatively affected water quality and quantity in the river. In addition new operations are proposed in this same area that would mine copper and other metals. The new mines would undoubtedly increase the impacts on the river and further reduce the ecosystem services that the watershed provides to society. The Fond du Lac Band has long recognized the danger that mining poses to the St. Louis River watershed. The river itself is an important tribal fishery and passes through the reservation. The Band recently released an Ecosystem Services Valuation report that was produced by Earth Economics a consulting firm based in Tacoma Washington. The goal of this project is to incorporate the economic value that an intact healthy watershed provides to help inform decision making and pri- oritization of conservation and restoration activities. The full report and summary factsheetscanbefoundatwww.glifwc.orgEventsEarth20Economics20St20 Louis20River20Project20Report.pdfandwww.fdlrez.comnewnrEarth20 Economics20St20Louis20River20Project20Factsheets.pdf. Earth Economics uses a benefits transfer method to assign a dollar value to the goods and services provided by nature. They rely on values that have been publishedinpeerreviewedliteraturetodevelopthevaluation.Thereportconcludes By Esteban Chiriboga GLIFWC GIS Specialist See Natures benefits in the St. Louis River watershed page 11St. Louis River. photo by Minnestoa DNR EditorsnoteThiscoverageoftheMilleLacsLakewall- eye fishery is an evolving story as we go to press on August 6 so other events may occur before Mazinaigan even reaches our readership. However we hope that our coverage offers background and a tribal perspective on this ongoing issue. Mille Lacs reservation Minn.This is the story of a crisis in Mille Lacs Lake Minnesota where the walleye population has been declining. This year both tribes and state sport fisherman fished under lowered quotas and are under obligation to stay within those quotas. Mid-July it became apparent that the state sport harvest might exceed their quota. TheMilleLacsBandresponded.Afterconsultingwiththe Tribes Drum Keepers Mille Lacs Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin notified her tribal members on July 31 that Mille Lacs will forgo netting for the next year through the end of the 2016 spring season except for ceremonial purposes. In a press statement Benjamin emphasized the tribe is acting on behalf of the resource and intends to work coopera- tively with lake managers to help heal the fishery and promote the area for the benefit of all. There are no quick solutions to fixing Mille Lacs Lake but the Mille Lacs Band is committed to restoring the lake. Our people made our homes here hun- dreds of years ago and we intend to preserve this lake for generations to come. We look forward to partnering with the Governor to support his efforts to address the immediate and long-term challenges of the region Benjamin stated. As of print time no changes have been announced from the other seven tribes who share the 1837 Treaty right to fish Mille Lacs Lake walleyes. While much media coverage focuses on the economic suffering of resort owners and fishing guides the loss of fish- ing opportunity is also deeply felt in the Ojibwe communities. In a letter to the Mille Lacs community Benjamin shared the words of one of the elders One elder talked about how a long time ago the fish animals and humans could all communicate with each other. The Manidoog put us all here to live a good life and humans needed subsistence. The fish felt it was important to protect and provide for the humans and so they told the humans that theywerewillingtosacrificeandgivetheirlivessothehumans could live. The only thing they asked in return was that we only take what we need that we always be respectful and put our tobacco down and make sure the Manidoog always know that we respect the walleye and will make our own sacrifices to help the fish if we need to do so. Ogaawag walleye have significant cultural importance to Anishinaabeg. Benjamin noted the Ojibwe people have inhabited this area and depended on the lake for sustenance for many generations so its clear to see that this sacrifice of fish will not be easy. For Anishinaabeg there is a special relation- ship between man and everything in creation. Ogaawag along with manoomin wild rice waawaashkeshi deer and other major food staples are necessary for many of the ceremonies and rites of passage that occur in Ojibwe communities. Any time our people lose the opportunity to be who we are which are hunt- ers gatherers and fishers we lose part of our identity states Lac Courtes Oreilles Tribal Chairman Mic Isham. So it is critical for us to take care of the resources and everything in creation that sustains our people. Mille Lacs chief Executive Melanie Benjamin. photo submitted PAGE 1 MAZINAIGANFALL 2015 An Ecosystem Service Valuation of the St. Louis River Watershed