Tipping Point Planner

Community leaders throughout the Great Lakes basin make long-term management decisions that affect the environmental health of local resources and communities’ quality of life. Protecting natural resources while enhancing resilience requires communities to understand and determine tipping points, which trigger rapid, sometimes irreversible shifts in ecosystem functions. Through Tipping Point Planner, Great Lakes communities can plan sustainable futures by directly linking data to their local decision-making processes.

The program includes a web-based decision support system and a facilitated community forum to explore policy and management interventions that are necessary to keep coastal ecosystems from reaching critical tipping points and moving to unstable conditions. The decision support tool is based on a region-wide user needs assessment, involvement from​ Sea Grant sustainable coastal development specialists in all Great Lakes states, and continuous input from pilot communities, consultants, researchers, and facilitators.

Tipping Point Planner enables diverse stakeholder participation in land use decisions and natural resources management strategies to plan and maintain projects within a HUC 12 watershed scale. When stakeholder input and consensus building are objectives, Tipping Point Planner can be used to convene groups and start new projects. The action planning process begins with a facilitated workshop to guide participants through the decision support system modules, and it concludes with follow-up meetings with the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant team.

The Tipping Point Planner process uses touch screen monitors as public participation tools to enable community groups to collaborate and explore the website, customized tools, and GIS maps to determine planning priorities linked to community values. ​The customized maps and action strategies identified as part of the action planning process can be used with the formatted final plan or saved, edited, and exported for use in grant proposals, reports, or management plans.

Visit the Tipping Point Planner website to explore the decision support tool and schedule a community program.

Contact Info

Topic Specialist

Kara Salazar
Assistant Program Leader for Community Development and Sustainable Communities Extension Specialist
Daniel Walker
Community Development Regional Educator

Research Projects

Carolyn Foley
Research Coordinator


Ethan Chitty
Administrative Assistant

Education & Training

Terri Hallesy
Education Coordinator
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