Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest: Greenwood Project


The project planning team for the Chequamegon-Nicollet National Forest used the Adaptation Workbook to review an early version of the Proposed Action for the Greenwood project in December 2015.  The project is currently on hold but planning will resume in the winter of 2016-2017. 

An interdisciplinary project planning team on the Washburn Ranger District of the Chequamegon-Nicollet National Forest is thinking about climate change risks and adaptation opportunities for a large vegetation management project.

Project Area

The Greenwood Project area covers almost 32,000 acres of National Forest Land on the Washburn Ranger District. This area is west of Ashland, WI, and north of US-2. This area contains a mix of forest cover types - pine, oak, aspen, and northern hardwoods. The Greenwood area also surrounds the Moquah Barrens special management area, which lies near the east end of an extensive outwash sand plain in northwestern Wisconsin.

Management Goals

A example of pine forests within the Greenwood project area. Photo credit: Michelle Davalos, US Forest Service

A recent assessment revealed that there is an overabundance of aspen and oak stands that are 75-80 years old across the Greenwood project area. This large "bubble" in the age class distribution is a liability for the Forest Service, particularly because these aspen and oak stands are reaching the end of their lifespans on the dry, nutrient-poor soils of the project area. If these stands decline and break apart through natural succession, and without large fires or other disturbances, they will likely convert to poor-quality northern hardwoods  that provide limited ecological or economic value, and offer few management options once established.  Therefore, the major management goals of this project are to regnerate the highest-risk oak and aspen forests and also re-establish pine forests where appropriate. 

Climate Change Impacts

For this project, the most important anticipated climate change impacts include:
More days with extreme heat and earlier spring season may lead to more wildfire activity in the project area and potentially more fire starts.
Aspen may be particularly at risk in this project area - older stands will be stressed more than younger stands, and sandy soils will be more prone to drought
Knapweed, leafy spurge, honeysuckle, and buckthorn have the potential to increase with more disturbance and changing growing seasons.

Challenges and Opportunities

Climate change will present challenges and opportunities for accomplishing the management objectives of this project, including:


There are challenges for managing aspen and oak stands in this project area even without climate change - additional stress may make this more difficult
Milder winters may boost deer populations, so there will be more browse damage on oak stands


Bur oak, white oak, red pine, and white pine are all potential "increaser" species across the Greenwood project area
There may be opportunities to introduce rare plants like lupine in the project area - this occurs ~100 miles to the south currently, but the Greenwood project area could become suitable habitat for the Karner Blue Butterfly

Adaptation Actions

Project participants used the Adaptation Workbook to develop several adaptation actions for this project, including:

Oak stands
5.2. Maintain and restore diversity of native species.
9.3. Guide changes in species composition at early stages of stand development.
TSI crop tree release for within-stand diversity @ age 10-30 - wherever diversity is needed.
Favor oaks and white pine, and also paper birch because it is rare
9.1. Favor or restore native species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions.
Plant bur oak, white oak, northern red oak, hackberry, black cherry, and pin cherry.
Aspen stands
5.2. Maintain and restore diversity of native species.
5.3. Retain biological legacies.
Build reserve islands around pockets of diversity
Retain smaller sub-merchantible red and white pine in reserve pockets
Increase species diversity in aspen stands where diversity exists - leave trees like oak and conifers in an aspen stand and follow reserve tree guidelines
5.2. Maintain and restore diversity of native species.
9.1. Favor or restore native species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions.
Supplemental planting in aspen stands that do not currently have much spp diversity - plant white pine or oak or white spruce. Identify some smaller stands to try this.
5.1. Promote diverse age classes.
Regenerate cohorts of older, high-risk aspen
White pine
5.2. Maintain and restore diversity of native species.
9.1. Favor or restore native species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions.
Increase white pine as a component in stands with shelterwood overstory, or paper birch stands with red maple, or underplant under a red pine shelterwood.
Planting white pine - brachy, scarify, plant - plant 400-500 TPA in oak shelterwoods

Project Photos

Click to enlarge photos

Next Steps

The Greenwood Project is temporarily on hold in the fall of 2016 due to a large storm and salvage project. Planning will resume in the winter of 2016-2017, and the ideas from the Adaptation Workbook will be refined into a Proposed Action.

Learn More

To learn more about this project, contact Stephen or learn more at:


Oak, Upland hardwoods, Early-successional habitat, Fire and fuels

Last Updated

Tuesday, November 8, 2016