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A consortium of 27 tribes in EPA Region 5 is collaborating on water quality and wild rice management, after being awarded an Exchange Network grant administered by the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

Tribal nations in the Upper Great Lakes have a strong history of working together to support sustainable and harvestable populations of wild rice, which in turn support the culture and health of indigenous people in the region. The grant provides essential support for the consortium tribes to use the Ambient Water Quality Monitoring System to flow all their water quality data to EPA’s Water Quality Exchange (WQX). The grant also covered extensive system training for tribes through both webinars and in-person sessions. The consortium has enabled tribes of all sizes to support one another and has allowed tribes with new staff or small-capacity monitoring programs to more easily comply with data reporting and water quality assessment requirements. Since the grant’s start in 2016, tribal water quality data submissions to WQX have improved and backlogs of past data have been addressed.

This grant also facilitated broadened data collection by WQX, allowing for receipt of not only water data, but also wetland data, including wild rice. The consortium tribes have access to a standard protocol, complete with handbook and field sheets, to gather and share wild rice population data in a consistent format allowing for comparison of wild rice trends at the regional scale. Such data enable tribes to make informed decisions about wild rice management, as well as to detect larger climate-related effects. As of late 2019, the tribal consortium had submitted 1,035,338 unique results to WQX.

This collaborative effort showcases how tribes can collectively address shared needs, improve consistency around data standards and methods, and use training to improve data submissions. To learn more, please view the July 8 Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals webinar recording,  or contact Kari Hedin of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

Tribal Consortium Members

1854 Treaty Authority
Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
Bois Fort/Nett Lake Band of Chippewa Indians
Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
Forest County Potawatomi Community
Grand Portage Band of LSC
Hannahville Indian Community
Ho Chunk Nation of Wisconsin
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC)
Lac Courtes de Oreilles Band
Lac du Flambeau Band of LSC
Lac Vieux Desert Band of LSC
Little River Band of Ottawa Indians
Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians
Lower Sioux Indian Community
Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin
Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi
Oneida Nation
Prairie Island Indian Community
Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
Red Lake Band of Chippewa
Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians
Sokaogon Chippewa Community
St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin
Upper Sioux Community