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Lessons Learned from the Climate Change Response Framework Project in Northern Wisconsin

Patricia Leopold, Maria Janowiak, Leslie Brandt, and Chris Swanston
Created: 5/31/2011 - Updated: 8/16/2019


Land management organizations, including federal and state agencies, local governments, and private organizations, are committed to improving the ability of ecosystems to adapt to the current and future effects of climate change. The USDA Forest Service (USFS) has laid out a Strategic Framework for Responding to Climate Change with seven goals for carrying out the Forest Service’s mission of sustaining forests and grasslands under a changing climate. The USFS National Roadmap for Responding to Climate Change builds on the strategic framework to identify measurable standards of progress, and the related Climate Change Performance Scorecard5 tracks implementation on each Forest. The Climate Change Response Framework Project (CCRFP) in northern Wisconsin predates the Scorecard and influenced Scorecard elements—it’s no coincidence that CCRFP activities and products directly address the Scorecard metrics.

The CCRFP initially grew from the joint commitment of the Northern Research Station (NRS) and the Eastern Region (R9) to work closely together in addressing the challenges of climate change. The Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science (NIACS), chartered in part by both organizations, began collaborating with the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest (CNNF), which was identified as a pilot landscape for what was ultimately called the CCRFP. The hallmark of the CCRFP quickly became the high level of cross-boundary collaboration, considered essential to coping with an issue that spans borders, disciplines, and perspectives. Although NIACS coordinates the CCRFP, its leadership role is fully shared with the CNNF, R9, NRS, and Northeastern Area (State and Private Forestry). Early and essential partners also include the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts. As the CCRFP matured, numerous individuals and organizations contributed time, creativity, and resources to its success. The new and strengthened partnerships emerging from the CCRFP highlight the value of approaching sweeping issues through landscape-scale conservation; it is more work, but the approach ideally engenders wider participation and collaboration, greater creativity, expanded land-base, broader perspective, and more effective actions to achieve specific objectives. The “lessons learned” in this document will hopefully reduce some of the work in future efforts, even as the increase the effectiveness.

This document records the processes, products, and lessons learned from the CCRFP with the intent that it will provide valuable information as well as inspiration to others working in the arenas of climate change assessment and adaptation response. This document features both major lessons and observations from the CCRFP and related components, as well as more subtle considerations and suggestions for moving forward on similar projects. Additionally, numerous public and private stakeholders have been involved in all aspects of the project, and many of their important roles and contributions are described herein.

Published On

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Community / Local
State / Provincial
Sector Addressed: 
Conservation / Restoration
Target Climate Changes and Impacts: 
Air temperature
Phenological shifts
Range shifts
Storms or extreme weather events
Water temperature
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy: 
Natural Resource Management / Conservation
Taxonomic Focus: 
Climate Type: 

Related Resources

Northwoods Climate Change Response Framework

Photo attributed to Todd Murray. Incorporated here under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. No endorsement by licensor implied.

Case Study
Sector Addressed: 
Conservation / Restoration

The Northwoods Climate Change Response Framework covers 64 million acres of northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan within Ecological Province 212 (Laurentian Mixed Forest) of the National Hierarchical Framework of Ecological Units.