Otter Point Woods: Waterfowl and Wildlife Habitat

Yes
Action

The Adaptation Workbook was used to consider how climate change would affect the property, and work is now underway to promote plant species that are expected to be better adapted to future conditions.

Climate change considerations were integrated into a management plan for this 18-acre camp property.

Project Area

Rexx and Maria Janowiak purchased a camp property in August of 2016 to be used primarily for recreation and wildlife habitat. This property is a mix of forests and wetlands on the shore of Otter Lake and includes approximately 10 acres of lowland hardwood forests dominated by green ash and silver maple. Much of the remaining property is a mix of wetlands dominated by tag alder shrubs, cattails, or rushes. The property is subject to substantial spring flooding, which can periodically inundate much of the land area.

Management Goals

The primary goals for the property are:

  • Provide high-quality habitat for diverse wildlife species with an emphasis on waterfowl.
  • Enhance opportunities for hunting, foraging, and other forms of recreation.
  • Protect and maintain water quality.
  • Maintain a trail network for access.

Climate Change Impacts

For this project, the most important anticipated climate change impacts include:
A major ecological driver for this property is the lake's water level, and it is unclear whether the water level would be affected by the changing climate, particularly during the summer growing season.
Floodplain forests are well-adapted to seasonal fluctuations in the water table, which suggests that the system has some capacity to adapt to change.
Changes in winter conditions may affect spring flooding. If snowpacks decline substantially, spring flooding might not be as severe. However, lake-effect snow will likely be substantial in the Keweenaw for quite some time.
Conditions are expected to become drier during the growing season as temperatures continue to rise. The high water table might allow plants (especially those with larger root systems) to access water during dry conditions.
Although many northern and boreal tree species are expected to decline, these species are uncommon on the property.
Tag alder is a northerly-distributed species and model projections from the Canadian Forest Service indicate that the species will have reduced habitat under the climate conditions expected at the end of the century.
Many of the current tree species (e.g., silver maple, box elder) are present much farther to the south and are not expected to be negatively affected by climate change (in the absence of other stressors)

Challenges and Opportunities

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

Challenges

Emerald ash borer poses a near-term threat to the largely ash-dominated forests, and impacts from this insect could interact with climate-related changes to increase overall stress on the system.
Declines (due to climate or other factors) in tag alder or overstory tree species could allow problematic reed canarygrass to expand further.
Some northern wildlife species, such as ruffed grouse, may have reduced habitat in the future.

Opportunities

Site suitability for several desirable plant species (e.g., oaks for mast) may increase.

Adaptation Actions

Maria Janowiak, a specialist in forest adaptation, used the Adaptation Workbook to identify several adaptation actions for the property, including:

Area/TopicApproachTactics
Entire property
9.2. Establish or encourage new mixes of native species.
9.7. Introduce species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions.
Establish various trees and shrubs across the property, emphasizing native species that have benefits to wildlife as well as cultivars and species from other areas that are edible or have other desirable characteristics.
Lowland hardwood forests
5.1. Promote diverse age classes.
Strategy 9: Facilitate community adjustments through species transitions.
9.4. Protect future-adapted seedlings and saplings.
9.7. Introduce species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions.
Create patch cuts in parts of the forest that are primarily ash (1 patch per year).
Remove wood from site (firewood).
Plant a variety of species on the site that are expected to be better-adapted to future conditions and provide benefits for waterfowl and other wildlife.
Protect seedlings from deer and beaver.
Field
1.3. Maintain or restore riparian areas.
Strategy 9: Facilitate community adjustments through species transitions.
9.4. Protect future-adapted seedlings and saplings.
9.7. Introduce species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions.
Cut box elder trees along edge of field.
Plant species on the site that are expected to be better-adapted to future conditions and provide benefits for waterfowl and other wildlife, such as white oak.
Protect seedlings from deer and beavers.
Other wetlands
1.1 Reduce impacts to soils and nutrient cycling.
1.3. Maintain or restore riparian areas.
Minimize disturbance to cattail areas and other wetlands.
Tag alder wetlands
5.1. Promote diverse age classes.
Cut small patches of tag alder to encourage new, young growth.

Monitoring

Several monitoring items were identified to inform future management, including:
Success of plantings
Extent of problematic invasive plants (such as buckthorn, barberry, and non-native honeysuckle)
Success of invasive plant control
Emerald ash borer presence and impact

Project Documents

Learn More

To learn more about this project, contact Maria

Last Updated

Wednesday, May 10, 2017