Climate Adaptation in Wisconsin Part 1: Impacts and Adaptation for Natural Resources

Climate Adaptation in Wisconsin Part 1: Impacts and Adaptation for Natural Resources

Daniel Vimont
University of Wisconsin - Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Time Slot: 
Concurrent Sessions 2
Session Type: 

Climate change poses a unique set of challenges for natural resource and habitat management in Wisconsin and the Midwest. The natural landscape of Wisconsin is rich with a variety of land- and water-scapes, including forests, unique plants and natural areas, lakes, waterways, and wetlands. Understanding climate impacts to natural resources, and developing adaptation efforts, requires understanding the connections within this varied landscape, as well as the influence of extensive agricultural activities, and urban and rural land uses. In this session, we will hear about climate impacts and adaptation efforts for management of natural resources and habitats in Wisconsin. While the focus will be on Wisconsin natural resources, the activities and techniques can be generally applicable. Time will be allotted for a question and answer period at the end of the session.


Climate adaptation for Wisconsin’s inland lakes
Madeline Magee, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
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Wisconsin’s 15,000 inland lakes are a vital economic and cultural natural resource statewide but are threatened greatly by climate change. Recent harmful algal blooms, flooding, and fish kills can all be attributed to a warmer, wetter climate. To evaluate and compile adaptation strategies, the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts gathered researchers and managers with expertise on Wisconsin’s inland lakes. We identified climate change impacts and possible adaptations strategies for four thematic areas relevant to inland lakes: water levels, water quality, aquatic invasive species, and fisheries. While adaptation strategies for each theme differ, there is consensus around the need for a multifaceted approach that incorporates communication and outreach, policy and regulation changes, traditional resource conservation approaches, and novel engineering designs. This approach should focus on protecting high-quality lakes, building lake resilience, and retaining beneficial ecosystem services. Thoughtful, strategic interactions with stakeholders are key to implementing these strategies.

WICCI Forestry Working Group: Helping land managers and land owners prepare for the future
Stephen Handler, USDA Forest Service and the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science
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Forests help sustain Wisconsin and the Great Lakes region ecologically, economically, and culturally. This presentation will showcase some of the ways that the WICCI Forestry Working Group is connecting with professionals and landowners to help forests adapt to changing conditions. Over the past 5 years, the WICCI Forestry Working Group has brought together federal, state, county, tribal, NGO, and Extension professionals to determine the best ways to move forward on climate change adaptation in the state. This presentation will share some examples that represent our group’s priorities of communication, training, and creating practical resources.

Natural Climate Solutions: Conserving nature to reduce and adapt to climate impacts
Nicholas Miller, The Nature Conservancy, Wisconsin Field Office
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Nature has always been our life support system: regulating our climate, offering diverse habitats, and providing an array of services for people and communities such as flood reduction, shoreline protection, and water purification. Efforts to conserve our life support system become ever more important as climate change threatens the health and welfare of people and habitats. Land protection, management, and restoration can provide high-impact, long-term solutions for climate change; map-based tools can help us target actions to minimize costs, maximize returns, and increase feasibility. The Nature Conservancy worked with partners to develop a suite of decision support tools that identify the best conservation approaches and locations so that: 1) people can help nature adapt to climate change, 2) nature can help people adapt to climate change, and 3) nature can help to reduce climate change. 1) The Resilient Land Mapping Tool ( identifies resilient and connected portions of landscapes most likely to harbor biodiversity as climate changes. 2) Wetlands by Design: A Watershed Approach for Wisconsin ( guides users to sites that can be restored or protected to provide ecosystem services for people. 3) The U.S. Carbon Mapper ( identifies best options for storing and reducing carbon emissions in forests, grasslands, agricultural lands, and wetlands, through a return-on-investment lens. Wisconsin-specific examples will be drawn from each of these tools. In combination, these tools enable practitioners to set priorities, develop plans, and implement projects in places and ways that sustain nature’s role in supporting life on earth.