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Huron/Erie Lake Plains

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NameColor on MapEPA Code*
Maumee Lake Plain57a
Oak Openings57b
Paulding Plains57c
Marblehead Drift/Limestone Plain57d
Saginaw Lake Plain57e

* This code refers to the US EPA's Level 4 ecoregion codes for the continental U.S., see here.

About the Huron/Erie Lake Plains

The Huron/Erie Lake Plains is a flat area adjacent to lakes Huron and Erie; it is located mostly in Michigan and Ohio, with a small piece extending slightly into Indiana. It is one of the more severely altered and degraded ecoregions in the U.S.

This area is nearly completely flat. Some local features include sand dunes and terminal moraines leftover from glaciation. Soils vary across the region, including poorly-drained clay, well-drained sands, as well as areas of more fertile soils. This region has a humid continental climate with cold winters and hot summers. A small area directly adjacent to the lake has slightly more moderate winters.

Original coverage was a mix of elm-ash swamp and beech forests, with some mixed oak forests, and on sandier sites such as beaches and dunes, open oak savannahs. Little of the original vegetation of this region remains; some forests remain but have a different composition from the original cover. Swamps have been mostly drained and streams channelized, making this area better-drained and thus more suited to agriculture and urbanization while destroying vast swaths of natural wetlands.

There a lot of heavy industry and urbanization in this area, which contains the bulk of the Detroit metro area, as well as Toledo and several smaller cities. In the more rural areas, this region is heavily utilized for agriculture, which is highly productive here. Agricultural use is mostly production of corn, soybeans, assorted vegetables, and livestock. Vegetable and fruit cultivation is most common close to the lake. Although extensive wetlands used to exist along the shore of Lake Erie, nowadays agriculture and some residential development extends the whole way to the lakeshore in most places.

The southern portion of this region is surrounded to the south and northwest by the Eastern Corn Belt Plains. The two discontinuous pieces of this region are separated by the Southern Michigan/Northern Indiana Drift Plains, which extend much farther west than this region. The northernmost portion along lake Huron also borders the Northern Lakes and Forests.

References

1. Wiken, E., Griffith, G. "North American Terrestrial Ecoregions - Level III", Commission for Environmental Cooperation, (2011) Web.