Wild Rice harvesting causing concerns for waterfront homeowners

Wild rice fields courtesy Ducks Unlimited

Photo: Black Duck Wild Rice

KAWARTHA LAKES-The City of Kawartha Lakes is considering joining the Township of Selwyn in asking the federal government to set guidelines for harvesting wild rice on Pigeon, Chemong and Buckhorn Lakes.

Some homeowners on these three lakes say the harvesting of wild rice is effecting enjoyment of their properties, impeding on their use of the waterway and mechanical harvesting using an air boat generates excessive noise.

James Whetung, owner of Black Duck Wild Rice has been harvesting rice on Pigeon Lake for more than 25 years as part of his First Nations heritage. The website says wild rice is a natural and traditional food, native to the Kawartha Lakes Region.

Black Duck Wild Rice

Mayor Andy Letham asked council to receive a letter from Selwyn Township outlining their efforts to get the federal government to set some guidles for the practice. Council then agreed to send that letter to MP Maryam Monsef and MP Jamie Schmale.

The homeowners are asking the government to “establish a method for harvesting the wild rice that considers the needs of adjacent waterfront property owners as the current mechanical method of using an air boat generates excessive noise that is disturbing to waterfront property owners an is effecting enjoyment of their property.” states a letter sent to the Government from Selwyn Township. They also want to limit the number of hours per day and to ban  harvesting on Sunday.

The Federal Government, through Parks Canada, and the seven First Nations of the Williams Treaty came together to form a wild rice harvesting working group in 2015. The group established terms of reference that included management and harvesting of wild rice, public education and indigenous history along the trent severn but the group says no actual plan has been put in place.  “Waterfront property owners on Pigeon, Chemong and Buckhorn Lakes are expressing extreme frustration over the lack of progress to address the mechanical harvesting of wild rice.” the letter states.

For more information on wild rice harvesting go to http://blackduckwildrice.org/About-us.php