About lcharwood

Undergraduate student at Leech Lake Tribal College.

Floating Cattail Bog and Rising Water Levels at Ogechie Lake

We made the trip to Ogechie Lake at Kathio State Park to collect water level data from the pressure transducer we installed on June 25th. We were lucky enough to teamed up with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe environmental department and others to make the trek in an 18 ft. long cedar canoe! You can see from the photos there is quite a bit of cattail competition along the perimeter of the stream bank, however we did observe small patches of wild rice beginning to emerge from the surface which you can see are starting to regress into open water in the channel. Unfortunately, a floating cattail bog downstream at Lake Onamia has elevated surface water levels and nearly flooded out our stream gauge. Moreover, the Mille Lacs environmental manager sent us before and after photos of the excavation of the floating cattail bog at the outlet of Lake Onamia. We expect the water levels to recede soon and hope to make another field trip to retrieve our data at Ogechie.

Assembling Pressure Transducers and the One Water Summit

This week we had more practice soldering the pressure transducers which we deployed at Lake Ogechie, Twin Lakes and Big Rice Lake. The experience at the electronics lab with our mentor Patrick was different but also was exciting and great way to learn more about the fast growing field of electronics and technology. The pressure transducers you see here were developed here at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.

We also had the chance to present our research project at the One Water summit at the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory. The summit included a focus on water and several other programs that the University offers to students.


Field Work Begins at Lake Ogechie, Twin Lakes and Big Rice Lake

We paddled away in canoes for our first field experience at Lake Ogechie just downstream of Mille Lacs. Here we installed a stream gauge, pressure transducer and piezometer. As of now, the wild rice is in the floating-leaf stage and was found growing with water lilies. Field work is fun, learning experience which gives us an opportunity to prepare for unexpected events.

Remnants of Trout Streams and White Cedar



During field days at Fond du Lac Resource management we had the opportunity to explore a few different wetlands sites. This particular site was by far a unique stand of beautiful white cedar and balsam fir.A closed canopy of white cedar, fallen mature trees, ferns, and mosses cover the forest floor, shading the shallow, cold water trout stream.

In a nutshell, it was truly an amazing experience to witness white cedar and brook trout inhabiting the  same swamp.

A Trip to Mining Counrty

Today we collected surface water, wild rice roots and sediment cores at four sites located within the iron range near Virginia Minnesota. These particular sites contain elevated sulfate in surface water which as a result forms an iron sulfide plaques on the surface of wild rice roots. Next week we will be begin collecting porewater sulfide and ferrous iron samples at the research farm using the mesocosm experimental setup.

Our Outdoor Adventure



Ready for take off to another restoration site on the St. Louis River.


The view from atop the cliffs was stunning as we overlooked the flowing water from Jay Cooke State Park.


As we traveled to one of the restoration sites we also learned more about the strenuous process of restoration of wild rice stands on the St. Louis River which requires lots of mechanical cutting using a barge. We were also fortunate to learn more about the sturgeon restoration projects at Fond du Lac Resource Management.

We also had the opportunity to check out Jay Cooke State Park for Friday fun day. Looking forward to next week as we begin to start more field-work and sampling at Fond du Lac and the research farm here at UMD.

First Trip to Fond du Lac


Wild rice plants are doing well at one of the restoration sites on Perch Lake.


The wild rice is now in the early stages of the emergent phase which is highly vulnerable to strong storms that cause flooding and wind gusts that can topple the young shoots
Blueberries are starting to ripen near Rice Portage lake.

The trip to Fond du Lac was a unique and memorable experience for team Zaaga’igan. Our guide Tom H. was very knowledgeable of the history, culture, and ecological significance of wild rice and the Anishinaabe people of the Great Lakes region. Overall we received lots of background information about tribal natural resource management which was a great way to learn more about why it is important to revise the current sulfate water quality standards for the protection of wild rice in Minnesota. Wild rice stands are an excellent habitat for developing juvenile fish, as well as feeding and resting stops for migratory waterfowl. Tribal lands here in Minnesota host an outstanding environmental habitat for the abundance of fish, wildlife, and surface water that is vital to sustaining the cultural resources and recreational activities in which we depend on to achieve the mino-bimaadizi – the good life.

Meet Commodore the robotic fish

DSC00030Researchers from NYU were invited to SAFL to introduce biomimetic fish in an effort to study fish behavior for conservation, environmental, educational and other purposes. Their experimental results have demonstrated that robotic fish may influence social and behavioral characteristics of other fish including migration patterns in the event of natural disasters and other hazards that threaten fish populations such as oil spills and dams.

Cram Time

IMG_1980IMG_1970Field sampling at Maple River and Lost Marsh Wildlife Refuge is now finished. It is now cram time as we complete the process of writing and data analysis. The last two trips to the field was quite an experience, getting lost in a field of cattails can be disorienting, exhausting and time consuming (technical difficulties with GPS) but overall a good way to get in a workout.

The wetland we are looking at is dominated by cattails and in some parts composed of a significant amount of litter which can displace other herbaceous aquatic vegetation by blocking out sunlight. At Maple River we did observe a floating mat which are primarily inhabited by hybridized cattails that are create of an extensive network of rhizomes and form monotypic stands, reducing biodiversity. However, cattails stands still provide valuable ecosystem services by efficiently taking nitrates and incorporating it into biomass. DSC00085

Cattails and more cattails

DSC00084Last week we collected additional water chemistry, vegetation, measured biomass, velocity and discharge in our 2nd wetland located at the Lost Marsh just South Mankato. Navigating through the wetland was difficult due to the dense cattails that stood about 6ft above ground. The vegetation here was highly dominated by hybridized cattails which are a cross between narrow-leaved (introduced) and broad-leaved (native) cattails. The hybridized cattails can form mats and are extremely successful colonizers that can outcompete other native plants (including both broad-leaved and narrow-leaved), reducing biodiversity and changing nutrient uptake.

Wetland Sampling



Wetland sampling using a quadrat where we collected lots of floating duckweed, hybridized cattails, canary grasses, sedges, and other submerged aquatic vegetation. The wetland we sampled is a shallow open marsh that has been restored.

First Day in the Field

We started our day off with some rainfall during the early morning, it was nice that it did clear up and had our sunshine back as we collected water chemistry samples and discharge measurements. One of the sites we were able to see the carp trying to swim upstream as they were trying to aggressively jump over the rocks near the culvert!

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First Week at SLAWR

Our first two days of orientation went well, I was glad to hear some of the past experiences of other SLAWR REU participants. The third day we all met with our mentors and discussed some of our areas of interests which was useful in regards to gaining the necessary experience to fulfill our goals. Also our mentors assigned us some readings that further demonstrates more in-depth back round of the project we will be working over the summer; it is also a good resource to refer to when writing our research paper. We also were required to take some mandatory safety training which was also important to protecting ourselves against any hazards we may encounter in the SAFL. So far we have had lots of information that will be helpful for future reference and hope to learn what research is all about.