Climate Change Action Plan for the Indiana Dunes

West Beach Interdunland pond

A panne at West Beach. Pannes are a globally-imperiled habitat, vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Photo by Marshall D’Arcy.

Climate Change Action Plan

Save the Dunes will be partnering with the Field Museum and local ecologists and land managers to create a Climate Change Action Plan for the Nearshore Indiana Dunes, an action-oriented plan based on existing research, planning workshops, informed opinions, and present conditions and realities that will increase regional preparedness in climate change adaptation and promote resiliency in natural areas in the nearshore region of the Indiana dunes.

Climate change is both a threat and an unknown in the Indiana dunes region. While many consider climate change a concern for the future, its impacts have been actualized in Northwest Indiana’s natural communities. In recent years, ecologists have seen habitat structures altered and the decline or extirpation of a number of native and once-flourishing species as climate change creates conditions that favor nonnative and invasive species. In an attempt to slow the loss of species and high quality habitats in our region, Save the Dunes, along with local and regional land managers, scientists, and conservation organizations, plan to take the necessary and overdue measures to prepare for climate change.

Before on-the-ground projects can be implemented to protect the quality and diversity of habitats of the Indiana dunes, the region’s experts must come together with partners with climate expertise to identify both vulnerable and resilient habitats and species, forecast species that we expect to lose and new ones we expect to migrate into this region, and develop restoration and management plans based on the abilities of our natural communities to withstand the impacts of climate change.

The goal of this project is to promote climate-minded management and conservation decisions in the Indiana dunes region based on the research and expertise compiled throughout this project. Outcomes include a greater understanding of how climate change will impact the health and biodiversity of the Indiana dunes region, and indicators of success include agency and organization management plans that thoroughly examine the sustainability and effectiveness of restoration projects amidst climate change impacts; implementation of projects that target habitats determined to be resilient to climate change; and discussions between land management agencies and organizations on how to address the degradation of species and habitats due to climate-related stressors.

We plan to begin this project in fall 2016 – be sure to check our Facebook and website for updates!

 

This project is made possible by a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Lake Michigan Coastal Program and the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation.