~ Incorporate Climate-Smart Guidelines into Restoration

Restoration is a key activity in natural resource management and conservation. Many restoration activities will, in general, enhance the resilience of ecosystems. By considering historical use and future trends in natural systems, practitioners can restore ecological function to promote resilience in a changing climate. The increasingly variable, non-linear, and stochastic nature of climate change requires that practitioners incorporate future conditions into short-, medium- , and long-term restoration planning efforts. Climate-smart restoration requires “defining goals, assessing current status and challenges, identifying and implementing appropriate strategies, and managing and assessing project performance” all in relation to projected climate change scenarios and impacts.193

There are a few climate-smart restoration activities occurring in the Great Lakes region. The largest example is the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI),194 a $475 million multiagency effort led by the EPA, which was created in FY2010 to address serious environmental issues in the region identified in the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy.195 The Initiative’s Action Plan, which runs through 2014, identifies five priority areas to guide restoration work in the region: Toxic Substances and Areas of Concern, Invasive Species, Nearshore Health and Non-point Source Pollution, Habitat and Wildlife Protection and Restoration, and Accountability.196 The Action Plan identifies climate change as a problem for all five focus areas and determines that “climate change impacts and the needs of the Great Lakes community to adapt to those impacts will be assessed and addressed by GLRI projects and programs where appropriate. To the extent that actions undertaken as part of this Initiative increase ecosystem resiliency, they will also help the Great Lakes ecosystem adapt to climate change.”197

Local level projects are also being developed. The National Wildlife Federation and EcoAdapt, in collaboration with NOAA, are piloting several restoration projects in Michigan, Ohio, and New York. These projects are applying the climate-smart framework outlined in the Restoring the Great Lakes’ Coastal Future198technical guidance document in project design, implementation, and evaluation. Lessons learned from these pilot projects will be used to inform an update of the guidance document.199In addition, the Illinois Lake Michigan Implementation Plan, a project of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Alliance for the Great Lakes, Chicago Wilderness, and the Biodiversity Project, is creating a framework for the restoration and protection of Lake Michigan’s coasts in Illinois that may inform funding priorities for federal, state, and local projects. The project is focusing on invasive species, habitat and ecosystem restoration, priority rivers and lakes, toxins, sustainable development, non-point source pollution, economic development, and climate change. With respect to climate change, both mitigation and adaptation strategies are in development.200

193 Glick et al. 2011.

194 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).

195 Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy to Restore and Protect the Great Lakes.

196 Gregg, R. M. (2012). Great Lakes Restoration Initiative [Case study on a project of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program (Last updated October 2012).

197 GLRI Action Plan 2010-2014.

198 Glick et al. 2011.

199 Gregg & Hitt 2012: The National Wildlife Federation’s Climate-Smart Restoration Partnership in the Great Lakes.

200 Illinois Lake Michigan Implementation Plan.