Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians – Climate Adaptation Plan


Staff from Red Lake Department of Natural Resources used the Adaptation Workbook to evaluate climate change information and to help prepare an Adaptation Plan for the Red Lake Reservation. 

Project Documents

Project Location

The Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians is a federally recognized Indian tribe. The Red Lake Reservation encompasses over 840,000 acres of land and water which spans across eight counties in northern Minnesota. The reservation completely surrounds Lower Red Lake, the state’s largest lake, and includes a major portion of Upper Red Lake. The Red Lake Reservation retains the only contiguous, unalloted reservation in Minnesota. Red Lake is one of only a few tribes in the U.S. that resisted allotment, and the Tribe holds all land in common for the benefit of its members.


Partners and Goals

The Red Lake Department of Natural Resources was accepted into the 2014 cohort of the Climate Solutions University program, a 10-month intensive curriculum designed to help rural communities prepare climate change adaptation plans. These adaptation plans focus on three major areas: forest resources, water resources, and local economies. Climate Solutions University is organized by the Model Forest Policy Program.

To help generate this community adaptation plan, Red Lake DNR staff attended a Forest Adaptation Planning and Practices workshop in July 2014 and used the Adaptation Workbook to consider risks, opportunities, and adaptation actions for major forest types and other natural resources across the reservation. 


Climate Change Risks

The Red Lake Reservation straddles the forest-prairie border in north-western Minnesota. Because of this proximity to a major transition zone and relatively level topography across most of Red Lake lands, this landscape faces has the potential for substantial change in the future. Some of the major risks identified by Red Lake DNR staff include:

  • The tribe is economically dependent on quaking aspen, a species projected to decline across a range of climate scenarios.
  • Increased heavy precipitation events and longer, warmer growing seasons could increase both high and low water table events across the reservation.
  • Warmer winters would reduce access for many areas of managed forest, which require frozen ground conditions.
  • Many culturally important plant species may be vulnerable to changing climate conditions, and not much is known about the tolerance of these species for climate extremes.


Next Steps

Red Lake completed the Climate Solutions University curriculum and completed their adaptation plan in December 2014 (see below). Now they have entered the “Implementation Program" of the CSU program, and their plan will eventually be expanded into a guideline for other environmental, development, and planning programs on the Reservation. The outcome will be a community that can better withstand the impacts of a changing climate upon their resources, economy and cultural structure in the decades to come.  NIACS hopes to work with Red Lake Forestry on project-specific adaptation activities in the years ahead.

Right: Jerilyn Jourdain, Red Lake DNR, explains some of her climate adaptation ideas at an adaptation workshop in 2014.  

Updated 8-11-2015.