~ Develop & Implement Adaptation Plans

Adaptation plans typically assess likely climate change impacts, identify goals and measures to build adaptive capacity and limit vulnerability, and establish guidelines to support the implementation of adaptive measures. Governments play important roles in climate change adaptation by coordinating transboundary and multilateral approaches and by mandating action. Adaptation plans are being developed and implemented at all levels of government – federal, provincial/state, tribal, and municipal – in the Great Lakes region.



At the federal level, Presidential Executive Order 13514 mandates climate change preparedness in federal agency planning and operations across the country.170 Each federal agency is required to create and implement an agency-specific climate change adaptation plan. In March 2011, the CEQ released the guidance document, Federal Agency Climate Change Adaptation Planning: Implementing Instructions.171 Federal agencies will be submitting adaptation plans as part of their Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans in 2012.


Provincial or State

Provincial and state-level adaptation plans in the region have been created for Ontario,172Quebec,173New York,174 Pennsylvania,175 and Wisconsin.176 A statewide plan is in development for Minnesota177 and, although a full state plan has not been released for Michigan, the state Department of Community Health released its Climate and Health Adaptation Plan to guide the public health community in responding to climate-related health risks.178



Tribes are also increasing their adaptation planning efforts. For example, the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, based along Lake Superior in Minnesota, is developing a climate change adaptation and mitigation plan. The plan will include measures to protect water and air quality, forestry, fisheries, and wildlife and the tribe’s subsistence lifestyle in a changing climate. Example strategies include monitoring moose migration patterns and associated temperature data in order to identify land use strategies that can protect potential climate refugia; transitioning from a cold water (brook trout) to a cool water (yellow perch, walleye) fishery in a 61-acre inland lake in response to warming lake temperatures that decimated the cold water species (brook trout); assessing the impact of aquatic invasive species; and promoting the use of mixed species rather than monoculture in forestry practices.179



In 2006, former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley established a Climate Change Task Force charged with evaluating the potential impacts of climate change and developing a Climate Change Action Plan. After conducting an impacts assessment and risk analyses, the city prioritized environmental and economic impacts and developed adaptation strategies in the Chicago Climate Action Plan. Implemented actions thus far include integration of future climate scenarios into stormwater management and the development of green urban design projects to reduce heat and flooding.180

Other adaptation plans are being developed to support the resilience of certain places or habitats by collaborative groups. For example, the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore contracted with the National Parks Conservation Association, The Field Museum of Chicago, and The Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands at Indiana University to develop a strategic plan for the park. The partners convened a meeting for more than 25 researchers, scientists, and natural resource managers, during which participants discussed topics including natural resource management, research opportunities, projected climate change impacts to the region, and strategies to include in the plan. The plan, National Park, Regional Treasure: The Future of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, lays out strategies and recommendations intended to sustain the park over the long term, one of which is to “establish a climate change action and response plan to protect the park resources most at risk.”181

In addition, a Lake Superior Ecosystem Climate Change Adaptation Plan is being developed under the leadership of the Lake Superior Binational Program’s Superior Work Group. The plan builds upon the goals outlined in the Lake Superior Lakewide Management Plan to restore and protect the lake’s ecosystem, and includes considerations of climate impacts of concern, such as changes in air and water temperatures, precipitation, wind, and ice cover duration and extent. The partners include regional natural resource agencies with management authority for Lake Superior, including federal (e.g., EPA, Environment Canada, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), tribal (e.g., Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa), provincial (Ontario Ministries of Environment and Natural Resources), and state (e.g., Departments of Natural Resources from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin) entities.

The plan’s partners are developing actions that reflect the principles of ecosystem-based management. Example adaptation actions under consideration include:

  1. Employing riparian buffers to mitigate water flows carrying high sediment and pollutant loads after intense precipitation events
  2. Retrofitting existing infrastructure to enhance storage capacity to cope with intense storm events
  3. Supporting the education and outreach efforts of local Sea Grant programs
  4. Developing a localized data system to facilitate information sharing and exchange on climate change impacts to the lake
  5. Enhancing seeding programs to select and plant seeds that are climate-, drought-, and disease-resistant.

A draft of the plan has been crafted and must be approved by all partners before it is released.182

170 Gregg 2010: Creating a National Adaptation Strategy for the United States: The Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force

171 White House. (2011). Federal Agency Climate Change Adaptation Planning: Implementing Instructions.

172 Government of Ontario. (2011). Climate Ready: Ontario’s Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan 2011 - 2014. Toronto, ON.

173 Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement, Faune et des Parcs. (2012). 2013-2020 Government Strategy for Climate Change Adaptation.

174 Rosenzweig, C., Solecki, W., DeGaetano, A., O'Grady, M., Hassol, S., & Grabhorn, P. (Eds.). (2011). Responding to Climate Change in New York State: The ClimAID Integrated Assessment for Effective Climate Change Adaptation. Synthesis Report. New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), Albany, New York.

175 Pennsylvania Climate Adaptation Planning Report: Risks and Practical Recommendations (2011).

176 Wisconsin's Changing Climate: Impacts and Adaptation (WICCI). (2011). Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts. Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, Wisconsin.

177 Gregg, R. M. & Hitt, J. L. (2012). Climate Change Adaptation Planning at the State Level in Minnesota [Case study on a project of the Interagency Climate Adaptation Team and the Climate Change Adaptation Working Group]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program (Last updated October 2012)

178 Michigan Department of Community Health. (2011). Michigan Climate and Health Adaptation Plan: 2010-2015 Strategic Plan.

179 González-Maddux, C., E.J. Isaac, & Y. Chenaux. (2012). Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa: Creative Solutions for a Changing Environment. Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals.

180 Gregg & Hitt 2012: A Roadmap for Action: The Chicago Climate Action Plan.

181 National Parks Conservation Association, The Field Museum of Chicago, & The Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands at Indiana University. (2011). National Park, Regional Treasure: The Future of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

182 Personal communication with L. Hanson, Lake Superior Binational Program Liaison, University of Wisconsin-Superior/Extension, October 22, 2012.