Hiawatha National Forest – Bass Boot Project


Hiawatha National Forest staff considered climate change effects and possible adaptation actions for a large vegetation management project on the West Zone of the forest.  

The Hiawatha National Forest is proposing a large vegetation management project in Schoolcraft and Delta Counties, covering approximately 56,000 acres. The primary purpose of the Bass Boot project is to move the project area toward the 2006 Hiawatha Forest Plan Forest-wide and Management Area direction. Specifically, some of the major goals of this project are to improve forest health and diversity for a variety of forest types, create Kirtland’s warbler habitat, reduce wildfire risk next to the wildland-urban interface, and maintain the aspen component in the landscape. 

Climate Change Risks and Opportunities

The Bass Boot Interdisciplinary Team considered broad climate change trends that are expected for Michigan forests and the site conditions across the project area.  They identified several risks associated with climate change, as well as several opportunities.  Some of these include:

  • Jack pine is projected to decline across northern Michigan under a range of climate scenarios, but this species might be less vulnerable in the Bass Boot area because many stands are still young.
  • Aspen is projected to decline across northern Michigan in the future, and many aspen stands in the Bass Boot project area are already susceptible to decline or transition. Much of the aspen is already 70-90 years old, and the aspen stands on dry sites are succeeding to pine/oak and aspen stands on richer sites tend to be converting to hardwoods.
  • Conditions that promote large wildfires may occur more frequently in the project area, and the wildfire season may shift beyond normal timeframes. This is a particular risk in fire-prone forest types in the southern part of the project area.
  • Kirtland’s warbler habitat in the Upper Peninsula might become particularly valuable in the future, as habitat in the Lower Peninsula is likely to be more stressed by climate change.
  • The road network might be vulnerable to blowouts in sandy areas, particularly if climate change increases dry conditions.  Heavy precipitation events and warmer winters could also limit access to stands in low-lying areas.

Adaptation Actions

The Bass Boot interdisciplinary team discussed climate change by using the Adaptation Workbook published in Forest Adaptation Resources. Overall, the management actions proposed in this project will contribute to climate change adaptation by encouraging a more healthy, vigorous forest and by encouraging greater diversity of forest types, species, age classes, and structures. Increased diversity can lead to increased resilience because more diverse stands offer more options for future management. Some of the adaptation actions included in the Bass Boot project include:
















Current Project Status

Hiawatha National Forest staff completed the Adaptation Workbook in the spring of 2014 and used this information to incorporate climate change considerations into the Proposed Action and Scoping Package for the public. More information is available on the Hiawatha National Forest Bass Boot project page.

Updated 8/7/15