Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians: Climate-Informed Harvest Prescriptions


Draft forest management prescriptions have been prepared for the stands in order to provide examples of on-the-ground management that incorporates climate change considerations, as well as to identify specific adaptation actions for future implementation.

The Natural Resources Department of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians in northern Wisconsin is concerned about changing climatic and environmental conditions that have already affected key cultural resources, such as wild rice. A changing climate is expected to aggravate existing stressors on ecosystems, as well as introduce new challenges to management. This adaptation project is designed to provide a real-world example of how climate change considerations can be incorporated into sustainable forest management.

Project Area

This adaptation project includes 164 acres of forest managed by the Natural Resources Department of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians (Bad River NRD). The team chose two stands of aspen-dominated forest on red clay plain soils, with mixed hardwoods and pine in the understory, and one stand of large white pine over mixed hardwoods. The adaptation project sites are near the Bad River and less than 10 miles from the Kakagon/Bad River Sloughs—16,000 acres of wild rice, grasses, sedges, trees, streams, and open water located on Tribal lands along the southern shore of Lake Superior. The Sloughs are part of the largest and healthiest full-functioning freshwater estuarine system remaining in the upper Great Lakes region and are culturally significant to the Bad River Tribe. The Bad River NRD works to maintain and improve the health of ecosystems within the Bad River Reservation for at least the next seven generations, while providing the sustainable provision of resources. This includes over 124,000 acres of land, primarily owned by the Tribe or held in trust. Much of the management on Tribal lands works to maintain the integrity of the Bad River watershed and associated ecosystems. Forestry activities also strive to enhance tree species that have cultural importance, including white pine, paper birch, and northern white-cedar. The Bad River NRD plans to use the lessons learned from this adaptation project to incorporate climate change into its next Integrated Resource Management Plan.

Management Goals

The climate change adaptation project will fully integrate climate change into forest management in these stands. Future activities include:

  • Continued collaboration between the Bad River Natural Resources Department and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to develop the stand prescriptions and implement the adaptation actions.
  • A set of monitoring metrics will be developed to evaluate the effectiveness of adaptation actions.
  • Lessons learned from this effort will be used to help incorporate climate change into the next Bad River Integrated Resource Management Plan.

Climate Change Impacts

A team of scientists and natural resource specialists from the Bad River NRD, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science (NIACS) used the Adaptation Workbook from Forest Adaptation Resources: Climate Change Tools and Approaches for Land Managers to evaluate the potential impacts of climate change on the Bad River project sites and suggest a variety of actions that could enhance forest resilience to climate change under a wide range of future conditions. Northern Wisconsin is already experiencing the effects of climate change, and many of these impacts are expected to increase in the future. Potential climate change impacts that are of particular interest in the adaptation project areas include:
Changing precipitation patterns may have an especially large impact on the lands surrounding the Bad River because of the unique red clay plain soils. More intense storms could increase issues related to erosion, sedimentation, and flooding.
Changes in precipitation patterns may affect water levels in forested wetlands. Reduced or dramatically fluctuating water levels could cause stress on forests and reduce their ability to provide clean water and wildlife habitat.
Northern tree species such as aspen, black spruce, and balsam fir may decline due to warmer temperatures and associated stress. In contrast, future conditions may be more favorable for some desirable tree species, such as white pine.

Adaptation Actions

Many actions were identified that can help achieve the current management goals in the identified stands, as well as enable ecosystems to adapt to future conditions. Examples include:

All Stands
1.2. Maintain or restore hydrology.
Implement actions that minimize impacts to the surface waters and the soils
Evaluate culverts when present and improve to accommodate larger storms
Consider the use of more temporary stream crossings to reduce impacts on soils and water
Evaluate BMPs to protect water quality and to address a range of climate change impacts
5.2. Maintain and restore diversity of native species.
9.1. Favor or restore native species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions.
Retain trees that are expected to be better adapted to future conditions during harvest, including red and white pine, red maple, and bur oak.
Include supplemental plantings with red pine and white pine to enhance long-lived conifer component and encourage species that are expected to fare better under future conditions
White Pine
5.1. Promote diverse age classes.
5.2. Maintain and restore diversity of native species.
9.1. Favor or restore native species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions.
Encourage white pine regeneration by thinning overstory white pine and reducing competition from the hardwood trees below the white pine
Plant additional white pine if needed to ensure the presence of that species
1.5. Restore or maintain fire in fire-adapted ecosystems.
Use prescribed fire to reintroduce low-intensity fires into the ecosystem and create conditions favorable for white pine to seed
10.1 Promptly revegetate sites after disturbance.
Develop plans to treat the site in the event that windthrow removes existing white pine overstory before white pine is established in the understory

Learn More

To learn more about this project, contact Maria


Lowland/ wetland conifers, Lowland/ bottomland hardwoods, Upland hardwoods, Management plan, Regeneration

Last Updated

Thursday, January 18, 2018