Forest and Water Climate Adaptation: A Plan for Alger County, Michigan

With over a half of million forested acres and a public land to private land ratio of one to one, Alger County is an area whose economic sustainability relies almost solely on the stewardship of its land and water.  Significant decline in water or forest quality will impact more than 20 percent of its labor force.  As an area that is already economically depressed, the decline of its natural resource health would prove catastrophic, causing a significant decline to the quality of life for all of its residents - plant, animal, and human - and serve as a large drain on the Upper Peninsula region, the Lake Superior watershed, and the State of Michigan.  There is already early evidence of tree species migration. Already endangered species such as the Piping Plover, a migratory bird that nests along the shores of Alger County, will struggle to keep its nesting habitat intact as Lake Superior’s turbidity and wave action increases. Globally, the issue of freshwater quality, water rights and ownership will continue to be one of the largest issues of our time. Climate change only increases the urgency and severity of water issues. Alternative energy and fuel continues to drive geo-political policymaking and several emerging markets. Beyond the SWP and CSU, many other partners and regional agencies supported the creation of this plan: 

SWP and the supporting team devoted 10 months in 2011 to conduct an in-depth assessment of the risks and opportunities related to climate change impacts to forest, water and economics of the community.The priority risks identified include:

  • Hotter summers with more drought, leading to a decrease in iconic tree species (such as the Sugar Maple, Eastern Hemlock, and Aspen) and an increase in the cost of living through increased energy and water bills, resulting from air conditioner use and lawn and garden irrigation.
  • Decreased forest habitat for terrestrial species such as the threatened Gray Wolf and game birds such as Partridge and Grouse.
  • Warmer water temperatures, causing a decline of cold water fish species, such as Lake Trout.
  • Decreased ice on Lake Superior and inland lakes, negatively impacting the foundation of the freshwater food chain through diminished plankton such as diatoms, and adversely affecting ice fishing, an important component of the winter tourism industry.
  • Increased Lake Superior wave energy, making shoreline infrastructure vulnerable to erosion and potentially damaging the habitat of the Piping Plover, an endangered migratory coastal bird.
  • Declining winter tourism dollars, as snow-based activities, such as snowmobiling and skiing, diminish due to lack of adequate snow base, and the cancellation of winter festivals such as the UP 200 dog sled race.
  • Disruption of human operations due to increased severe storm events including flooding. 


Opportunities available through addressing climate change include:  

  • An extended summer and fall tourism season. 
  • The manufacturing of locally produced fuel, such as bio-fuels associated with Alger County forest products businesses.
  • The protection of high quality rivers, streams, and lakes, providing healthy fish habitats and public use enjoyment and economy.
  • The protection of waterfront property as uniform setbacks are created, ensuring the sustainability of development, and the integrity and health of all shoreline species.  
  • The education of Alger County residents regarding climate change impacts and opportunities to mitigate those impacts by reducing individual carbon footprints.
  • The strengthened partnerships of several local agencies and municipalities including the Superior Watershed Partnership, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, U.S. Forest Service, The Forestland Group, the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science, the Alger County Conservation District, local townships, universities, and school districts. 

With this climate action plan, we intend to enhance existing climate change efforts in our region, and to serve as a model for communities around our state and the Lake Superior Watershed.

The State of Climate Change Adaptation in the Great Lakes Region

The field of climate change adaptation is in a period of critical transition. The general concepts of adaptation have been well developed over the past decade. Now, practitioners must move from generalities to concrete actions, including implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. The intent of this report is to provide a brief overview of key climate change impacts and a review of the prevalent work occurring on climate change adaptation in the Great Lakes region, especially focusing on activities in the natural and built environments as they relate to freshwater resources (and in some cases, at the freshwater/terrestrial interface). This report presents the results of EcoAdapt’s efforts to survey, inventory, and, where possible, assess adaptation activities in the Great Lakes region.

First, we provide a summary of climate change impacts and secondary effects on freshwater environments and resources in the Great Lakes region, specifically focusing on changes in air and water temperatures, precipitation patterns, lake levels, and water chemistry. We then provide summaries of and trends in commonly used adaptation approaches and examples from our survey and other resources. We separate these examples into four broad categories – Capacity Building, Policy, Natural Resource Management and Conservation, and Infrastructure, Planning, and Development.

The report concludes with a discussion of the challenges to and opportunities for climate change adaptation in the Great Lakes region. The majority of adaptation efforts in the Great Lakes region thus far has been focused on capacity building, including improving understanding and awareness, acquiring or developing resources, and developing collaborative partnerships. Important next steps for advancing climate change adaptation in the Great Lakes region are to increase knowledge sharing between practitioners, to encourage more planning and integration across political and sectoral boundaries, to implement actions, and to monitor and evaluate the efficacy of these activities.

Email Address: 
Position Title: 

HRWC is a nonprofit coalition of Huron Valley residents, businesses, and local governments.  The Council bridges political boundaries by building partnerships between and among communities, community leaders, residents, and commercial enterprises.  Serving those constituencies, HRWC monitors the Huron River, its tributaries, lakes, and groundwater, and directs multiple programs addressing pollution prevention and abatement, wetland and floodplain protection, citizen education, and natural resource and land-use planning.

Email Address: 
Position Title: 
Sociedad Ambiente Marino
Position Title: 
Administrator, Florida Resilient Coasts

Climate Change Adaptation Planning in Fresno County, California


United States
36° 44' 48.6312" N, 119° 46' 21.3132" W

Climate change is a global phenomenon that has the potential for severe local impacts to natural systems in Fresno County. These impacts in turn will affect agriculture, human health, infrastructure, forestry, emergency response, tourism, and many other facets of society. Climate change impacts are expected to exacerbate existing problems in Fresno County while also imposing new ones.

The Environmental Code Committee of the City of Baguio, Philippines, is in the process of drafting an environmental code for the growing city. With the increasing threat of climate change, it is crucial for the city to develop environmental regulations to preserve the heritage and ecosystems of the area. The city of Baguio has been named the "summer capital" of the Philippines due to its cool weather in the summer months; thanks to climate change, temperatures are increasing and Baguio may no longer remain an escape for those from hotter cities in the Philippines. 

Progress and Challenges in Urban Climate Adaptation Planning

Cities around the world are increasingly aware of the need to prepare for greater variability in temperature, precipitation and natural disasters expected to take place as a result of global climate change. In recent years, numerous reports and manuals have been written and networks formed to offer guidance and facilitate the exchange of ideas and information. However, since systematic studies have not been conducted, the information and methods being disseminated often are based on the efforts of a limited number of cities and wisdom drawn from experience in other domains. To gain insight into the status of adaptation planning globally, approaches cities around the world are taking, and challenges they are encountering, a survey was sent to communities that are members of ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability.

The Urban Climate Adaptation Planning report examines a multitude of approaches to adaptation planning in numerous different cities and urban settings. Along with tests of climate risk and vulnerabilities and explaining modern challenges to adaptation planning, the authors include comprehensive charts and graphs to properly display an informational and interesting report.