Northern Highlands Lake District

The Northern Highlands Lake District of Wisconsin is in transition from a sparsely settled region to a more densely populated one. Expected changes offer benefits to northern Wisconsin residents but also threaten to degrade the ecological services they rely on. Because the future of this region is uncertain, it is difficult to make decisions that will avoid potential risks and take advantage of potential opportunities. The NHLD project adopts a scenario planning approach to cope with this problem of prediction. NHLD uses an ecological assessment framework developed by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment to determine key social and ecological driving forces in the Northern Highlands Lake District. From these, they describe three alternative scenarios to the year 2025 in which the projected use of ecological services is substantially different. The work reported in the paper demonstrates how scenarios can be developed for a region and provides a starting point for a participatory discussion of alternative futures for northern Wisconsin. Although the future is unknowable, they hope that the assessment process begun in this paper will help the people of the Northern Highlands Lake District choose the future path of their region.

Adapted from

Peterson, G.D., T.D. Beard, B.E. Beisner, E.M. Bennett, S.R.Carpenter, G.G. Cumming, C.L. Dent, T.D. Havlicek. 2002. Assessing future ecosystem services: A case study of the Northern Highland Lake District, Wisconsin. Conservation Ecology: 7(3): 1. available here

NHLD Map 

 Publications:

 NHLD Scenarios Report

  Carpenter, S.R.  2008.  Seeking adaptive change in Wisconsin's ecosystems.  In Waller, D.M. and T.P. Rooney (eds.), The Vanishing Present:  Wisconsin's Changing Lands, Waters and Wildlife.  University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois USA.  pdf link.

Peterson, G.D., T.D. Beard, B.E. Beisner, E.M. Bennett, S.R.Carpenter, G.G. Cumming, C.L. Dent, T.D. Havlicek. 2002. Assessing future ecosystem services: A case study of the Northern Highland Lake District, Wisconsin. Conservation Ecology: 7(3): 1. available here

 NHLD in the News (2003)

University of Wisconsin Press Release, Carlson, Emily. UW Researchers Envision the Future of Northern Wisconsin Lakes. June 9, 2003
PDF version

Wisconsin State Journal, Carpenter, S., G. Peterson, L. Levitt. Planning the Future of the Northwoods, June 29, 2003
PDF version

Our Town, Juon, S. Unspoiled Northwoods Lakes: an endangered species? July 13, 2003

Isthmus, Medaris, D. SimNorthwoods. July 18, 2003

Wisconsin Public Radio, Halstad, G. Northwoods Faces 'Ecological Disaster', July 21, 2003
radio broadcast (open with RealPlayer)

Limnology & Oceanography Bulletin, Carpenter, Steve. Scenarios for the Future of Northern Wisconsin Lakes, September 2003.

 The Capital Times, Zaleski, Rob. Cottages Fall Castles Rise, October 4, 2003.
PDF version

Wisconsin State Journal, Seely, Ron. Chippewa Care For Lakes Of The North Woods, October 7, 2003.
PDF version