landscape photo from driftless area - trail through woods

Climate Change Impacts

Dry-mesic forest in the Driftless Area ASCC site
Managers must take climate change impacts into account will developing treatment for the Driftless Area. Photo Credit: Courtney Peterson, Colorado State University 

Key projected climate change impacts that the project team considered for the Driftless Area include:                                      

  • Increased average annual temperatures, particularly in winter months
  • More frequent heavy precipitation events
  • Increased drought stress
  • Increased threat of forest pest, disease, and invasive species

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


  • Forests in this region have been susceptible to invasive species that may benefit from longer growing seasons, including buckthorn, bush honeysuckle, garlic mustard, and multi-flora rose
  • Increasing uncertainty around the ability to apply prescribed fire as a management tool
  • Limited fire is likely to hasten the conversion to mesic species, restricting oak regeneration
  • Greater risk of water stress for regeneration
  • Despite warmer average temperatures, cold snaps may limit otherwise future-adapted species
  • Projected climate conditions may limit operability



  • Many native tree species are expected to maintain or gain suitable habitat under climate change, including northern red oak, white oak, shagbark hickory, bitternut hickory, and sugar maple
  • Sites that have been managed with fire may be more adaptable with more favorable conditions to perpetuate oak