• Start-up
  • Planning
  • Action
  • Evaluation
Staff from the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi used the Adaptation Workbook at a workshop in 2016, and they have begun implementing the adaptation plan for this project.

Project Area

Pokagon Band of Potawatomi logo.
The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi are a located in southwestern Michigan and northern Indiana, being one band among the larger Potawatomi culture the historically spread across Wisconsin, northern Illinois, northern Indiana, and southern Michigan. The Pokagon resisted relocation pressure since the early 1800s to remain in their homeland, and now there are approximately 5,000 tribal members and a formal tribal government centered in Dowagiac, Michigan. The Pokagon own reservation lands scattered across 10 different counties, and this project considers potential actions on a few forested parcels.

Management Goals

Ash stand with different paint colors to indicate different years of EAB treatment.

For this project, Environmental Specialist Kyle Boone considered three separate tree species that are culturally important to the Pokagon Band, all of which occur in lowland forests on tribal property.  The tribe's goal is to restore and maintain paper birch, ash, and northern white-cedar. In recent years the Pokagon have taken an active role monitoring and combatting the infestation of emerald ash borer (EAB) through preventative injections of green, white, and black ash. The tribe is also trapping EAB to get population estimates and releasing parasitoid wasps as a biological control. They have released about 31,000 wasps through 2016.  For cedar restoration, they recently planted a 2-acre demonstration site with northern white-cedar. 

Climate Change Impacts

Climate change has the potential to complicate restoration and management of these culturally important tree species. The most important anticipated climate change impacts include:
Increases in non-native plant species, particularly in the understory of these forested parcels.
More damage from forest pests and pathogens. The Pokagon's forests have already been hard-hit by EAB and Dutch elm disease.
More drought stress will be challenging for these species, which all rely on moist soil conditions to persist in southern Michigan.

Challenges and Opportunities

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


Projected temperature increases might be too much for northern species like cedar
An increase in drought or wildfire from climate change would be a large challenge for these forest stands


Warmer conditions may make it easier for blue ash and other southern tree species to establish in southern Michigan.
Disease-resistant American elm is projected to tolerate future climate conditions

Adaptation Actions

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

Ash stands
Promote blue ash - not as susceptible to EAB, already present on the Pokagon reservation.
Treat existing ash stands for EAB through preventative injections.
Protect cedar seedlings with a deer exclosure.
Plant cedar across a range of sites and soil conditions

Next Steps

The Pokagon DNR has established a second cedar circle, which is located on a wetter soils. Initial survival appears to be slightly higher at the second cedar circle. DNR staff also installed a deer exclosure at this second cedar planting site to protect the seedlings. Monitoring of both sites over time will reveal survival trends between different soil types and forest canopy conditions (uncleared, cleared, and thinned treatments). The band is still considering options for promoting blue ash, which has been identified on tribal property, as well as American elm seedling stock. Staff will also continue monitoring the effectiveness of current management actions to control EAB.

Learn More


Assisted migration
Insect pests
Lowland/ bottomland hardwoods
Lowland/ wetland conifers

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