Isle Royale Scenario Planning

Isle Royale Wolves

Beginning in 2012, GLISA partnered with the National Park Service (NPS) to integrate climate information into NPS’s scenario-planning approach in an effort to evaluate potential impacts on the delicate wolf and moose ecosystem on Isle Royale. Through the development of four scenarios (least change, summer drought, warmer than Duluth, and isle savanna), the team created an easy-to-read table that outlines how each species would fare under each condition relative to its current state. The key findings, released in the workshop report, are summarized as: 1) ‘Restoration to past not possible’, 2) ‘Perpetuation of present unlikely’, and 3) ‘Make best possible future’. GLISA and NPS partnered again to replicate this process on the Apostle Islands to see if the lessons learned from the Isle Royale engagement are transferable.

GLISA worked with NPS to develop localized historical and future climate information for Isle Royale that was used by park officials during their scenario planning workshop.  The templated climate information is produced through collaborations with climate change adaptation specialists with NPS and GLISA climate scientists. Three different tables were produced for the scenario planning workshop:

  1. Comprehensive (Full) Climate Driver Table
  2. Condensed Climate Driver Table
  3. Least Change Climate Table

A Final Report was produced to summarize the process and outcomes of the scenario planning work.

Project Accomplishments

GLISA’s localization of climate data and information for Isle Royale proved valuable in the scenario planning template NPS uses, and led to a sustained engagement with Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Research Findings

A key lesson learned is that there is a need to plan actively for the best possible future, as opposed to trying to restore a past state or maintain the status quo. Planning for restoration or maintaining the status quo without realistically reflecting the changes taking place in our climate and subsequently in ecosystems will not lead to effective and candid vulnerability or needs assessment processes.