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By Peter David GLIFWC Wildlife Biologist MANOOMINPOLYMET With another manoomin harvest season behind us and the brown dead stalksdisappearingbackbelowthewater surface its a good time to pause and reconsider all that the good berry has given us again. While it will be months before all the post-season harvest surveys are completed and the data compiled ricers and biologists already are pretty certain that the seasonfrom a human harvesting perspectivewas a pretty good one for many. Still as is always the case individual waters showed the full range of variability in crop that is partofmanoominscharacter.And2015 reminded us that predicting what the harvest season will be like will likely always remain a fools exercise. GLIFWCs preseason surveys of beds in northern Wisconsin east cen- tral Minnesota and the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan certainly were encouraging. Beds in Wisconsin and Michigan looked above average over- all and the Minnesota waters surveyed looked simply outstanding one of the bestyearsinmostanyonesmemory.But alotcanhappenbetweenanearlyAugust survey flight and an early September harvesting tripand it usually does. In the end it looks like the harvest was above average but where the best picking turned out to be was often not where one might have guessed earlier. Winds and heavy rains hit a number of beds especially those that tended to ripen early ensuring that a bigger than usualportionofthecropwouldbegoing to feed the ducks and replenish the seed bank for future crops. Someofthedenseststandsendedup beinghurtbytheirownabundancewith thethickfoliagereducingdryingairflow betweentheplantscreatingidealcondi- tions for the outbreak of fungal brown spot disease which broke out in some of the most promising locations. And on some waters that might have looked only good in August everything came togetherproperdensitylackofstorms gradualmaturationtocreateexcellent picking conditions over a longer than average time window. This gave pickers not only an extendedtimetoharvestbuttosharethe word and participation seems to have beenparticularlyhighthisyearinanum- ber of areas. For example the number of wild rice licenses sold to Wisconsin state-licensed harvesters 854 was the second highest number in the last 20 years.2015salesweresurpassedonlyin 2009 when another very good crop and ideal weather lead to high participation. Interestingly Wisconsin license sales fell by a third in 2010. In the end folks who scouted the beds watched the weather and listened to their ricing friends often returned to the landing with their canoes well-laden with rice. One pickeroverheard at the landing of a bed planted on a state wildlifeareawasthrilledathavingher first 100 pound day saying I feel like I got a 12 point buck Noteveryricerhadthatkindofday but every ricer knows that manoomin gives in many waysnot just by its seed. Time spent with a partner in the stand surrounded by the beauty of the outdoors is a gift in itself. In the cold months ahead memories of days on the water will be warm indeed. Documenting the annual harvest is an important component of effective manoomin stewardship. Both state and tribal ricers can expect to be contacted by mail or phone to document your sea- son and your opinions on the crop and importantmanagementissues.PLEASE PARTICIPATE your information plays a critical role in the stewardship of this special gift. It is a form of giving back to manoomin while helping to preserve theharvestingopportunityforthefuture. On the cover MazinaiganscoverfeaturestheimageonGLIFWCs2015annualposter Deweigan Drum by Mille Lacs Ojibwe artist Wesley Ballinger. One 18 x 24-inch poster is available free upon request along with an explanation sheet that talks about the significance of the drum in Ojibwe culture. Additional copies are 2.50 each plus postage. Posters can be ordered online at www. glifwc.orgpublicationsindex.htmlPosters or email lynnglifwc.org. Scouting ahead pays dividends for ricers Hoyt Lakes Minn.A decision on whether to allow the first metallic sulfide mine in Minnesota to move forward is on the near horizon. PolyMet Mining has proposed a large open pit cop- per sulfide mine named NorthMet near the Mesabi Iron Range of northeast Minnesota. However for scientists from regional tribes including those at GLIFWC too many unresolved questions related to the NorthMet project linger creating unacceptable risks to Ceded Territory resources. Tribal technical staff remain concerned that the prediction and evaluation of potential environmental impacts is incomplete in many areas and fundamentally flawed in several significant ways said Nancy Schuldt Water Projects Coordinator for the Fond du Lac Environmental Program. Schuldt refers to the Final Environmental Impact Statement FEISa document that tries to predict how mining activity can affect the quality of natural resources. GLIFWC along with the 1854 Treaty Authority Fond du Lac Bois Forte and Grand Portage Ojibwe Bands are conducting an ongoing review of the 3000-page FEIS released on November 6. Earlier this year tribal authorities analyzed the preliminary FEIS pFEIS and submitted comments to the lead agenciesa trio comprised of theArmy Corps of Engineers US Forest Service and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The co-leads are accepting public comments over a 30-day period ending in early December 2015. Once finalized the document sets the stage for regulators to decide whether or under what conditions to issue permits. For the tribes the area of most concern is water. There is a lack of quantitative estimates of the impacts to wetlands caused by disruption of the mine sites hydrology said Esteban Chiriboga GLIFWC GIS and mining specialist. We also question the technical feasibility of capturing the majority of the contaminated seepage from the proposed tailings basin. The open pit mine proposed by Canada-based PolyMet Mining Corp would stretch across the water-rich Superior National Forest in the 1854 Ojibwe Treaty Ceded Territory. Around 1000 acres of wetlands would be destroyed over the mines estimated 20-year operating life. Groundwater which way does it flow The proposed NorthMet mine is situated near a long low ridge that divides a pair of watersheds the St. Louis RiverLake Superior system to the south and the Rainy River system to the north. The Rainy River system contains the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and flows into Canada. Over the past decade PolyMet and its technical contractor have asserted that contaminated mine groundwater would flow south through the St. Louis River system. The lead agencies concurred but never ran the computer models to verify the companys findings. John Coleman GLIFWC environmental section leader did run the models and came to a very different conclusion on how the mine discharge would behave. There was weak characterization of groundwater hydrology as well as incorrect identification of conditions that will exist should the NorthMet mine be permitted and operate for 20 years Coleman said. When Coleman input correct closure conditions the companys models showed that contaminated mine water would flow north and in much greater quantities than predicted by PolyMet. The current NorthMet project is adjacent to an active taconite mine that has produced a string of landscape-altering pits and waste mounds. As miners con- tinue to remove minerals and waste rock water levels in the taconite pits will dip hundreds of feet lower than the levels at NorthMet. The problem the companys consultantshavebeenassumingtaconitepitwaterlevelsatclosurethatwerehigher than those at NorthMet. When you assume water levels are 300 feet higher than they will actually be it is impossible to make correct predictions. The site hydrology and contaminant flow need to be reevaluated using correct closure water levels said Coleman. Tribal staff remain concerned that with such a major flaw in evaluation of the groundwater system accurate predictions to impacts on natural resources are impossible. ToreadGLIFWCsfullcommentsonthepFEISseewww.lic.wisc.eduglifwc PolyMetpFEISGLIFWC_comments At PolyMets proposed mine its all about the waterBy Charlie Otto Rasmussen Staff Writer This cross-section diagram created by John Coleman is based on groundwater modeling and illustrates how low water levels in the Peter-Mitchel P-M taconite pits would redirect groundwater flow to the north. PAGE 3 MAZINAIGANWINTER 2015-16