Star Lake Concerned Citizens Group | P.O. Box 41, Dent MN 56528 | 218-251-1975

Interview on Monday, July 25, 2016, with Ray A Norgaard (DNR)

Question 1: Jason-SLCCG

mn wildriceCould you could quote on the total number of rice lakes (of importance) the DNR had identified in your previous/current works of survey and inventory?  I see in the 2008 Wild Rice Document that Star Lake made that list. 

Response 1: Ray Norgaard-MN DNR

Star Lake is one of only four sites in Otter Tail Co. specifically identified by harvesters surveyed in 2006 as a destination for harvesters. (see ). According to the survey, during 2006, over two-thirds (2,413 total trips, 70.5%) of all wild rice harvesting trips were in Aitkin, St. Louis, Itasca, Crow Wing or Cass counties (See Figure 2.1 and Appendix F, Table F.2). The next five counties with the highest number of trips (698 total trips, 20.4%) were Becker, Clearwater, Beltrami, Lake and Hubbard counties.  Out of 28 counties identified as being visited for wild rice harvesting, these top ten counties total 90.9 percent of all wild rice harvesting trips. The following map is found in the 2008 report.

Question 2: Jason-SLCCG

In your experience, would you assess that increased motorboat usage on emerging and existing wild rice beds as being one of the major immediate threats to existing stands of Wild Rice?

Response 2: Ray Norgaard-MN DNR

As noted in the Executive Summary of the 2008 report to the legislature ( ) “Important threats that impact local stands of natural wild rice include changes in local hydrology due to dams and channelization, water-based recreation and shoreland development, and mining and other industrial activities.  Although the impacts are to local stands, the cumulative effect of these threats can have statewide implications.” Certainly motorboat use can be very damaging to specific stands of wild rice. While wild rice can be removed by the cutting action of engine props, it is most easily damaged during the floating leaf stage by prop wash, wave action, and contact with boat hulls, as well as the direct cutting of stems.

Question 3: Jason-SLCCG

You had also mentioned that Ringnecked/Mallard/Teal/Wood Ducks, Trumpeter Swans, and Canada Geese are some key users of Wild Rice, as far as Waterfowl goes?

Response 3: Ray Norgaard-MN DNR

That is correct. Although many people think only about waterfowl feeding on wild rice grains, all stages of wild rice growth provide food resources including dead stems. Where wild rice occurs the emerging stems in early summer provide protection for duck broods and molting hens as well as a micro-habitat for invertebrates. The stems, leaves and roots are also heavily used by Canada geese, trumpeter swans, and muskrats. As an annual grass the seed production is attractive to fall migrants particularly waterfowl but also rails and songbirds. Spring migrants benefit from residual seeds and the invertebrates attracted to the decaying straw. As a result, wild rice lakes and streams are breeding and nesting areas for many species.  The Canadian Wildlife Service, for example, has found extensive waterfowl use of wild rice introduced into Saskatchewan outside of its normal range. Observations in the late 1970s found 83% of the waterfowl in June, 84% in July, 79% in August, and 99% in October were using wild rice habitat versus non-wild rice habitat (Peden, Donald G. 1977. Waterfowl use of exotic wild rice habitat in northern Saskatchewan. Canadian Field-Naturalist 91(3): 286-287. Also attached).

Question 4: Jason-SLCCG

Could you also clarify my point I made in the notes too where it was referenced there were 17 species of concern associated with Wild Rice?  Was that information referenced in your MN DNR Wild Rice Inventory/Study (2008)?

Response 4: Ray Norgaard-MN DNR

Yes. Minnesota birds that utilize wild rice habitat and are listed in Tomorrow’s Habitat for the Wild and Rare as species of special concern.

Birds of Special Concern Life Cycle Stage
American Black Duck Breeding and migration
Lesser Scaup Migrant
Northern Pintail Migration, Rare Breeder
Trumpeter Swan Breeding and migration
American Bittern Breeding and migration
Least Bittern Breeding and migration
Red-necked Grebe Breeding and migration
Common Loon Breeding and migration
Sora Rail Breeding and migration
King Rail Casual migrant
Virginia Rail Breeding and migration
Yellow Rail Breeding and migration
Black Tern Breeding and migration
Bobolink Foraging and migration
Rusty Blackbird Foraging and migration
Sedge Wren Breeding and migration
Bald Eagle  Foraging and migration


A Sincere Thank You to Mr. Ray Norgaard of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources from the Star lake Concerned Citizens Group (SLCCG) to for taking the time to answer our questions. Ray is an active MN DNR employee out of the Fergus Falls Office, a renowned expert on Wild Rice, wetlands, and the former Shallow Lakes Program Supervisor with the agency. We hope everyone finds the information as interesting as we did!!