||Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa:
The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, located in northeastern Minnesota, is striving to reduce its
carbon footprint and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Sustainability, energy efficiency, and the
development of renewable energy are key goals, and the Band aims to protect the reservation and its resources
for the cultural, spiritual, and physical well-being of its people.
The Reservation covers 101,000 acres, including forested areas, undisturbed wetlands, and wild rice waters.
Animals commonly found on the Reservation include black bear, timber wolf, fisher, marten, bald eagle, owls, and
white-tail deer. The Band also retains fishing, hunting, and gathering treaty rights in the Ceded Territories
(areas ceded by the Band in treaties signed in 1854 and 1837), which consist of 8 million acres in the Arrowhead
Region of Minnesota. However, the Band sees these steps as necessary in order to protect resources for everyone,
not just tribal members.
Impacts of Climate Change
predict that the climate in Minnesota will become warmer through the century, with more precipitation extremes
ranging from flooding to drought. Air pollution is expected to increase as a result of the warmer temperatures.
These changes could lead to greater threats from invasive species, such as the emerald ash borer. Some species
may leave the area as temperatures increase-the moose population in northern Minnesota is already decreasing. The
loss of maple trees could mean a decrease in the amount of maple syrup collected from sugar bush locations. Flooding
or drought can be very harmful to the production of wild rice, which requires relatively constant water levels.
Traditional knowledge shows that climate change is indeed occurring in the area. Besides the decrease in moose
population and increase in the emerald ash borer, Band members also talk of how deer are moving farther north. The
Fond du Lac Band fully recognizes what climate change can mean for their way of life and are committed to slowing
or reversing the warming trends that have been occurring, through responsible action. Like other tribes, the Fond
du Lac Band cannot "move" to follow species that no longer live on the Reservation or in the Ceded
Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency
The Fond du Lac Reservation Business Committee adopted the Kyoto Protocol in February 2007; this means that 20%
of the Reservation's electric energy must come from renewable energy sources by the year 2020. Implementation of
the Protocol falls largely under a variety of projects being pursued by Bruno Zagar, the Fond du Lac Environmental
Specialist and Energy Projects Manager.
du Lac staff and energy consultants have been working with Minnesota Power, the electric utility company that
provides power to northeastern Minnesota, conducting energy audits of all Fond du Lac buildings and performing
the most cost-effective upgrades to conserve energy, doing work with the greatest payback first. The energy rebates
from these go in an energy efficiency account, which can then be used to perform more upgrades. For example, $16,000
in rebates from the new Natural Resources building (see below) will enable the Band to install energy-saving
LED lights in several locations: resource-management garage, transportation garage, the Black Bear Casino hotel
stairwells, and the Band's recycling and re-use area. The Fond du Lac Reservation Business Committee has also
decided to install LED lights in the casino parking ramp. The time needed to recoup the costs of these LED
projects averages around 1.3-1.8 years. The casino project alone will save $201,125 over five years. Another
possible project is to install high bay fluorescent lights in five gymnasiums, which would save $200,000 over
five years. Upgrades also include improvements to the efficiencies of the heating/ventilation/air-conditioning
systems in the Bandís casino and hotel complex.
Resource Management Division is now housed in a new energy-efficient building, with LEED certification in progress. An
important part of the energy-saving potential of this building is the installation of 12.25 kW's worth of solar panels
on the building's roof. Power generated by these panels is either used in the building or sold to the grid. Since its
installation, the system appears to be on target with its goal of producing 17,150 kilowatt-hours of energy per year.
This will reduce CO2 emissions by 13.72 metric tons each year.
Bruno organized a building design review team and developed an architect competition platform to find the best
LEED architect in the region to design the resource management building. The Reservation Business Committee and
staff worked together to obtain funding for construction, which included an Indian Community Development Block
Grant, Department of Energy Grant, tax credit financing and a low-interest loan from the Shakopee Mdewakaton Tribe.
Fond du Lac Reservation Business Committee and staff are researching a biomass co-generation wood pellet plant
project that will provide electricity and wood pellet fuel for heating buildings in the region. They also worked
with Minnesota Power, the Fond du Lac Ojibwe School, and the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College to install
a 3.15 kW photovoltaic system to provide power at the Bandís powwow grounds. Fond du Lac has also been collecting
wind data for five years and conducting a heat recovery feasibility study to generate electricity in the future.
The Band has faced challenges while developing and implementing the various projects, including the huge amount
of time required to write grant applications; coordinating the various project participants, who come from many
different points of view; dealing with the great financial cost and technological complexities of projects; and
determining the feasibility of various renewable energy projects.
Outreach and Education
Through her efforts in environmental education, Shannon Judd, Environmental Education Coordinator, has become another
climate change go-to person at the Fond du Lac Band. Shannon has held compost bin sales and raffles to expand
household composting, helps operate the vermicomposting (worm bin) program at the Ojibwe School, and takes students
on the school's nature trail to practice phenology (the observation of the timing of events in nature, such as
when the first robin of spring is sighted, or when different plants flower). She is also trying to incorporate
energy efficiency requirements into the procurement policies for any energy-consuming devices purchased by the
Resource Management Division, such as office equipment, vehicles, etc.
In addition to working with the Ojibwe School students and the general public on outreach activities, Shannon has
been working with Bruno on a feasibility study, under a grant from the BIA Division of Energy and Minerals
Development to study waste-to-energy and food waste diversion projects. Shannon also coordinates the Band's
recycling and re-use center. Shannon says, "All of these activities, either vermicomposting or re-use and
recycling, help keep items out of the waste stream and reduce the number of miles of hauling done on the Reservation.
It all ties together."
Steve Olson, Reservation Forester for the Fond du Lac Band's Forestry Program, has been working on a number of
climate-change-related projects. Steve participates in a USDA Forest Service project called the Climate Change
Response Framework. This effort will produce a document that will help lead decision-making by taking expected
impacts of climate change into consideration. The project could also tie in to the Band's Integrated Resource
Management Plan, which addresses invasive species and climate change interactions. Steve has also been working with
the Northeastern Minnesota Landscape Committee, which includes private, state, county, federal, and tribal landowner
representatives. This committee is currently rewriting its landscape plan.
The Fond du Lac Band's Forestry Division has also been working to re-forest land that has lately been used for
agricultural purposes. While the Band could apply for carbon credits for these activities, they haven't, for a
couple of reasons. One, the Band might have to become a Certified Forest, which would include the cost of certifying
the planting. Also, the Band has not applied for carbon credits because right now the carbon market is low.
Steve's advice for undertaking climate projects: "Frame it differently, not necessarily as a climate change
project. Do it to save money and to decrease the use of finite resources."
The Resource Management Division has a number of other climate change-related projects underway, including:
- The Reservation's school buses idle for prolonged periods to keep interior temperatures warm enough for
the children. The Fond du Lac Air Program is pursuing ways to install heaters in the buses to reduce the need
for idling. The Environmental Program has also written a draft Reservation "idling policy," which it
hopes to implement in the future.
- Members of the entire Environmental Program have started meeting monthly to discuss climate change issues
and coordinate efforts.
- Other members of the Fond du Lac Resource Management team are also working on climate - adaptation projects.
The Office of Water Protection has conducted on-Reservation stream sampling of water flow and temperature, to
set a baseline that can be used to measure changes that might result from climate change.
- Mike Schrage, the Fond du Lac Wildlife Manager, is currently working with the Minnesota Department of
Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to study moose populations in northern Minnesota, and
to try to find ways to keep the populations healthy.
About the Fond du Lac Band
The Fond du Lac
Reservation is in northeastern Minnesota, about 20 miles west of Duluth, with the tribal headquarters
located in Cloquet, MN. The Reservation was established by the LaPointe Treaty of 1854 and is one of
six reservations inhabited by members of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. In the treaty, the various bands
on Lake Superior and Minnesota Chippewa ceded about 25% of the land in the present states of Minnesota
and Wisconsin and the balance of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to the United States. The Chippewa
Nation is the second largest ethnic group of Indians in the United States.
(Fond du Lac Band website: www.fdlrez.com/)
References and Resources
Resource Management Division (www.fdlrez.com/newnr/main.htm), Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
Environmental Specialist and Energy Projects Manager
Environmental Education Coordinator
Photos in this profile are courtesy of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.
Joy Wiecks, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, and Jennifer Youngblood, National Tribal Environmental
Council, developed this profile in 2012 for the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals, Northern
The profile is available on the Tribes & Climate Change website: www4.nau.edu/tribalclimatechange/. The tribal climate change profiles featured on the website are intended to be a pathway to increasing knowledge among tribal and non-tribal organizations interested in learning about climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.
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