Rally for wild rice protection to greet Dayton at fishing opener

A rally to support protection for wild rice will greet Gov. Mark Dayton at the fishing opener this weekend in northern Minnesota.

The legislature is considering a measure that would raise the sulfate permitted in wild rice waters from the current ten milligrams-per-liter, to 50 milligrams-per-liter.

Robert Shimek, from the White Earth Land Recovery Project, said the more stringent standard has worked over the years.

"If an industrial or agricultural or energy project can keep its sulfate discharges below 10mg per liter, wild rice can survive and actually thrive," Shimek said.

Proposed copper-nickel mining projects in northeastern Minnesota are expected to increase the sulfate levels enough that they may not meet the current standard.

A review of the matter is underway, but Shimek said laboratory studies won't be enough.

"Fluctuating water levels, temperature extremes, you may come up with an entirely different set of circumstances between a lab experiment and what actually goes on in nature," he said.

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