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Central Foothills

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About the Central Foothills

The Central Foothills are a region of central Maine that can be seen as a transitional region between the lower, more coastally-located Acadian Plains and Hills and the more mountainous, interior Northeastern Highlands regions to the northwest.

Terrain here mostly consists of hills, with some rolling plains and some higher peaks. There are many glacial features, including a large area of ribbed moraine in the north, and numerous lakes and ponds of varying sizes throughout, and some wetlands. The bedrock here is diverse, including metasedimentary rocks as well as granite. Lower areas are covered in sandy-loamy glacial till, which becomes thinner at higher elevations. Bedrock outcroppings are common at the highest elevations. Although there are some areas of calcium-rich bedrock, most of the region is calcium-poor and has nutrient-poor soils with low buffering capacity.

Plant biodiversity here is lower than areas to the southeast, but higher than the higher elevations to the northwest. This region was originally covered with spruce-fir-broom moss forest, featuring red spruce (Picea rubens), balsam fir (Abies balsamea), and eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), and beech-birch-maple forest with american beech (Fagus grandifolia), yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis), and sugar maple (Acer saccharum), along with some hemlock, red maple (Acer rubrum), and paper birch (Betula papyrifera). There was also white pine-mixed conifer forest, with eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), red spruce, red pine (Pinus resinosa), hemlock, and red maple, and spruce-northern hardwood forest, with red spruce, yellow birch, balsam fir, and some white pine.

This region is still mostly forested, with the only clearings mostly being areas recently cut for forestry. There is some hunting and recreation, as well as some rock quarrying and slate mining. Although most of this area is sparsely populated, there are some small towns towards the east of this region, where the road network is more developed, near where I-95 cuts through a small portion of this region. Millinocket is the largest town here, with about 4,500 people.

This region is bordered to the southwest by the Central Maine Embayment, which is lower-elevation, flatter, higher in biodiversity, and more utilized for agriculture. To the southeast is a bordered with the Penobscot Lowlands, which is very low and flat and has fine-textured soils. To the east is the Eastern Maine-Southern New Brunswick Plains, an area that is slightly flatter and lower-elevation but still somewhat hilly. At the far northeast, there is a small border to the north with the Aroostook Hills, but most of this region is bordered to the northwest by the Quebec/New England Boundary Mountains, a higher-elevation, more rugged, colder region that is even more sparsely populated.

References

1. Griffith, G.E., Omernik, J.M., Bryce, S.A., Royte, J., Hoar, W.D., Homer, J.W., Keirstead, D., Metzler, K.J., and Hellyer, G. "Ecoregions of New England (Poster)", U.S. Geological Survey (2009) Web.