Falling water levels in Lake Superior are not only threatening the ecology of the area but a Native American tradition as well.

For the first time ever, the tribal council of the Bad River Chippewa tribe has cancelled the wild rice harvesting season.

Leah Gibala, a Wetlands specialist with the tribe, says higher temperatures, lack of rain and  low levels in Lake Superior are causing the twelve-thousand acre wetlands area to dry up.

By letting the rice beds lie fallow for a year,  the tribe hopes it will allow them to expand to deeper waters.

Wild rice is more than just a food source. Gibala points out it is the heart of the tribe's culture and history. Anything that threatens the wild rice beds is of major concern to tribal members.

The tribe's Natural Resources Department is also encouraging non-tribal boaters and anglers to help keep the rice beds growing, especially in the spring, by honoring a voluntary no-wake zone in the wetlands area.

Wake from boats can destroy the natural seeding process in the spring, putting future harvests in jeopardy as well. 

AUDIO: Jim Dick reports ( 1:09 MP3 )

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