• Start-up
  • Planning
  • Action
  • Evaluation
Partners from the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Wisconsin DNR, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Apostle Islands National Lakeshore worked together to incorporate climate change adaptation ideas into population recovery plans for Great Lakes piping plovers at a specific location.

Project Area

Piping plover on Lake Superior coastline
The Great Lakes population of piping plovers has been listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act since 1986. Piping plovers breed and raise young mainly on sparsely vegetated beaches, cobble pans, and sand spits of glacially formed sand dune ecosystems along the Great Lakes shoreline. On Lake Superior, Long Island and Chequamegon Point is the only area in Wisconsin supporting regularly occurring nesting piping plovers since the 1970s, and it is currently the least disturbed habitat in the state.

Management Goals

Project team working together at a 2019 adaptation workshop

The general goals of the piping plover recovery effort are to stabilize the sandspit from the sediment plumes of the Bad River and Kakagon River and to maintain high-quality piping plover nesting and foraging habitat. The project team also developed specific objectives related to removing debris in nesting locations, managing native and non-native invasive plants, and to support 10-20 nesting pairs on Long Island/ Chequamegon Point. 

Climate Change Impacts

Project partners considered broad climate change trends that are expected for northern Wisconsin, as well as more specific local impacts that were described in a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. They also considered how these climate change trends could impact the local population of piping plovers and the available nesting habitat. Some of the high-priority climate change risks include: 
More beach disturbance due to stronger storms, larger waves, declining ice cover, and other factors.
Botulism, West Nile virus, tick diseases and other health risks. 
Changes in food webs and food availability. 

Adaptation Actions

Project participants used the Adaptation Workbook and a draft version of the Wildlife Adaptation Menu to develop several adaptation actions for this project, including:

Piping Plover - Population Management Ideas
Remove eggs from the mouth of Bad River for captive breeding, and release to suitable sites on Chequamegon Point.
Close Long Island to dogs during the breeding and rearing season
Continue installing nest exclosures and psychological fencing to protect nesting areas
Develop beach observation points for the public to provide safe viewing opportunities, including a live-action webcam for community engagement
Piping Plover - Habitat Management Ideas
Identify stopover habitats and potential protection acres along the migration route.
Identify possible new habitat along the Bad River corridor on the Bad River Reservation


Project participants identified several monitoring items that could help inform future management, including:
Beach width and slope
Woody debris and garage assessment
Invertebrate species diversity and abundance
Population size and nest productivity
Mortality events and causes

Project Documents

Next Steps

This idea was conceived by project partners at a 2019 workshop, primarily as an example of how to incorporate climate adaptation ideas into local species recovery actions under the blanket Piping Plover Recovery Plan. This summary will be updated if the project moves forward.

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Wildlife habitat

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