Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi


Tribal environmental staff attended a Forest Adaptation Planning and Practices training in February 2014 and are currently building support to implement the adaptation actions they identified. 

The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi (NHBP) manages a relatively small land base in southwestern Michigan called the Pine Creek Reservation. For this project, tribal natural resources staff assessed the impacts of climate change on the forest lands managed by the tribe and designed several adaptation actions that could be pursued over time.

Contact: Stephen Handler


Right: A sugar maple being tapped for syrup production on NHBP land. Photo credit: NHBP Environmental Program. 


Project Goals and Partners

NHBP does not have a large forested land base, or a legacy of active forest management. Nevertheless, the tribal environmental staff have identified several goals to guide the protection and restoration of natural resources. Major areas of emphasis include inventory work for canopy and understory species, invasive species monitoring and eradication, market development for forest-based products including maple syrup, and creating suitable wildlife habitat. Potential project partners include the local drain commission, Kalamazoo Conservation District, Michigan DNR, BIA, NRCS, and other organizations.


Climate Change and Forest Resources

Staff from the NHBP environmental department used the Adaptation Workbook from Forest Adaptation Resources to evaluate the potential climate change impacts on forested areas the Pine Creek Reservation and for the surrounding landscape in general. Potential climate change impacts that are of major interest include:

  • Non-native invasive species such as garlic mustard are currently a major challenge to maintaining the integrity of natural communities, and climate change is expected to increase the competitive advantage of many invasive species.
  • Culturally significant species such as paper birch, ash, northern white-cedar, and white pine are projected to decline in southern Michigan across a range of climate scenarios.
  • Reduced summer moisture could result from shifting precipitation patterns, longer growing seasons, and warmer temperatures under climate change.  This stressor could be amplified in southwestern Michigan because much of the landscape has been tiled and drained. 

Adaptation Actions

Several actions were identified to accommodate changing conditions and pursue the management goals for the Pine Creek Reservation. Examples include:

  • Break drain tiles and restoring a more complex riparian structure
  • Continue the invasive species control plan
  • Promote hunting within the NHBP community to reduce deer herbivory
  • Conduct prescribed burns in upland forests
  • Raise awareness among the NHBP community with increased interpretive signage and forest products like maple syrup
  • Develop a tribal nursery and seedbank to generate seedlings of future-adapted cultivars and tree species


Project Outcomes

The tribal environmental staff are work to prioritize and implement a suite of adaptation actions recommended for this project. As the NHBP land base expands over time, this adaptation mindset can be applied to a larger area.


Current Status

A first step for NHBP will be to inventory forest and understory communities on the reservation, which is scheduled to begin this summer. NHBP environmental staff are also building support for several of these activities with the Tribal Environmental Advisory Council and the local drain commission.


Last updated: 4/22/2014