Superior National Forest: Hi Lo Project


Superior National Forest staff used the Adaptation Workbook in the winter of 2016. The team refined their ideas for public Scoping Report, published in August 2016. 

The project planning team for a large vegetation management project on the Superior National Forest used the Adaptation Workbook to assess climate change risk and contemplate adaptation actions.

Project Area

The Hi Lo project area occurs on the Kawishiwi Ranger District of the Superior National Forest . The area is bounded on the north, east, and west sides by the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). Hi Lo is a heavily-used project area, with lots of recreational use, homes, resorts, and summer camps in Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) areas. The area spans roughly 63,000 acres, with 33,800 acres of National Forest land among many lakes, state-owned land, private land, and county land.

Management Goals

A prescribed fire along Burntside Lake.

The overall purposes for the Hi Lo Project include improving and restoring existing stand conditions to promote long-term healthy, productive, diverse ecosystems with an emphasis on wildlife habitat; and reducing impacts and risks of an uncharacteristic wildfire impinging on populated and high use recreation areas. More specific vegetation objectives include:

  • minimizing the effects of uncharacteristic wildfire, by reducing hazardous fuels around BWCAW boudaries and WUI areas and increasing forest complexity
  • re-introducing fire into fire dependent ecosystems, including pine stands wet meadows, lowland shrubs, and oak-blueberry habitats
  • diversifying red pine, white pine, and spruce stands
  • creating young forest, particularly jack pine


Climate Change Impacts

For this project, the most important anticipated climate change impacts include:
Increasing droughts and warmer temperatures could stress red pine stands, aspen, and oak stands on sites with shallow soils and contribute to more health problems in densely stocked stands.
Access and operability in the Hi Lo project area is difficult, and winter access routes could be open for shorter windows in the future.
The Hi Lo project area is surrounded by wilderness on three sides and contains many fire-prone forest types, so warmer and drier conditions are worrisome.

Adaptation Actions

The project planning team for the Hi Lo project used the Adaptation Workbook to develop several adaptation actions for this project. They discussed many "win-win" opportunities, where responding to climate change would also help move the project in the direction intended in the Forest Plan, many of which are included in Appendix 5 of the Scoping Report (attached below). Some of these included: 

Red pine
1.4. Reduce competition for moisture, nutrients, and light.
5.1. Promote diverse age classes.
Use conventional and variable thinning
5.2. Maintain and restore diversity of native species.
Retain oak and white pine during thinning operations
Locate gaps near potential seed sources
5.2. Maintain and restore diversity of native species.
8.1. Use seeds, germplasm, and other genetic material from across a greater geographic range.
Underplant or interplant after thinning, and consider using seed stock from seed zone 1 near the Chippewa NF.
Fire and fuels
1.5. Restore or maintain fire in fire-adapted ecosystems.
7.1. Reduce landscape fragmentation.
Increase the use of prescribed burns in oak, jack pine, red pine, and white pine stands.
Use fire at a large scale across the landscape
Oak and White pine
9.8. Move at-risk species to locations that are expected to provide habitat.
Expand or plant oaks and white pine on the deeper soil areas such as ELT 16.
Aspen and Jack pine
9.1. Favor or restore native species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions.
Convert off-site aspen with a clearcut and planting or seeding to jack pine, using fire as site prep where feasible
Promote bigtooth aspen over quaking aspen where possible.

Project Documents

Next Steps

After considering public comments during the scoping period, the Hi Lo team will refine their management proposal in a formal Environmental Assessment in 2017.

Learn More

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


Oak, Upland conifers, Upland hardwoods, Fire and fuels

Last Updated

Monday, December 12, 2016