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Aquatic Vegetation and Wetlands
Often seen as unproductive land, wetlands are starting to gain broad recognition as an essential part of a healthy, balanced ecosystem. Wetlands play a critical role in regulating the movement of water within our watersheds and in doing so provide numerous benefits.
Why We Value Wetland
Wetlands have the ability to purify our water supply through natural filtration systems that absorb chemicals, nutrients, sediments and impurities from the water – in essence they are regarded as “nature’s kidneys”. They process nitrogen, produce oxygen and have high capacity to sequester and store carbon. Wetlands help to regulate water levels by absorbing water during wet periods and releasing it slowly during dry periods, reducing flooding and easing drought impacts. They also regulate the movement of water between the surface and the underlying aquifers by recharging and discharging groundwater. Wetlands along river and lakeshore areas help to reduce erosion by slowing flow, dissipating wave energy and buffering the shoreline. And on top of all of that, wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems in the world, providing specialized habitat to numerous species of plants and animals.
For a complete picture of the importance of wetlands for our local environment read this article by Alyson Symon
While many homeowners around Mississippi Lake bemoan the presence of wild rice in their area (primarily in Code and Ketch Bays) and would like to see it permanently eradicated the fact is that wild rice is with us for the foreseeable future. The simple fact is that wild rice is a native plant that is culturally significant to the indigenous population of this area.
Although the government of Ontario suggests avoiding any removal of wild rice (apart from Indigenous harvest), some situations may require its removal. To remove any vegetation from private shorelines on Mississippi Lake, Ontario’s rules for remove native aquatic plants apply. As such wild rice can only be removed directly in front of property or in a bigger area with a work permit.
For more info check out this article by Alyson Symon of MVCA on how to manage aquatic vegetation (weeds).
As far as we know, wild rice has always existed in Eastern Ontario. The first recollection of wild rice comes from the Anishinaabe Migration story that has been passed down through oral traditional knowledge for thousands of years.
MANOOMIN: The food that grows on water
Manoomin (wild rice) is the only true native grain to North America. Contrary to its name, manoomin is not classified as rice, but as a grass⁸. Manoomin grows from seed every year in shallow freshwater areas and produces edible grains⁹. Indigenous peoples across North America have used these grains for thousands of years both as food and in ceremony⁴. These grains are also an important food source for local wildlife, including waterfowl, fish and even deer.
Its life cycle is fairly simple and depicted in image here.
For simplified story of wild rice in this area check out this publication from PlentyCanada
In a lake environment, vegetation is everywhere. It's the trees in our yards and along our access roads, it's the plants in our gardens, and it's the grass in our lawns. In the lake itself, it's a wide variety of aquatic vegetation.
Aquatic vegetation is vital to the health of the lake ecosystem. But, in some cases, this vegetation impacts on human ability to enjoy the lake. Some see this vegetation as "Good", and others see it as a nuisance. There is room to satisfy both sides of the argument, but as with all such issues, a reasonable balance must be struck. Please see this very informative 2018 article from MVCA explaining what can be done do achieve a peaceful co-existence.