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Menominee-Drummond Lakeshore

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About the Menominee-Drummond Lakeshore

The Menominee-Drummond Lakeshore is a region covering the entire southern shores of the lower peninsula of Michigan, along both Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, and extending barely into Wisconsin. The region includes a number of small islands near the coastline.

This region is characterized by an interaction of typical lake plain features and limestone bedrock, along with glacial features including moraines and outwash plains. There are broad sand plains, beach ridges, dunes, and poorly-drained depressions. However, the bedrock is close to the surface in many places, and occasionally exposed as bedrock outcroppings, stony beaches, and cliffs. Soils here are diverse: there are deep, poorly-drained, mucky sands in depressions, shallow sands over limestone, some well-drained sandy loams, and some deep, coarse, excessively well-drained sands on moraines, dunes, and outwash plains.

This region has a humid continental climate, the mildest anywhere in Michigan's upper peninsula. The lake moderates the temperature and keeps humidity higher in summer. There is some lake-effect snow but less than on west- and north-facing shorelines. The portions of the great lakes adjacent to this region usually freeze over completely in winter, which reduces the moderating effect on the coldest winter lows. The growing season averages 125 days.

Original vegetation cover varied considerably based on the drainage pattern and depth of sand relative to the bedrock. Better-drained sites supported northern hardwood forest, with American beech (Fagus grandifolia), sugar maple (Acer saccharum), and other trees, whereas more poorly-drained sites supported balsam fir (Abies balsamea), black spruce (Picea mariana), and northern white-cedar (Thuja occidentalis). The wettest sites supported swamps of northern white-cedar and tamarack (Larix laricina). Along the lakeshore, where humidity was consistently high, dunes supported northern hardwood forest, but farther inland, dunes and areas of deeper sands were covered in more fire-prone communities of red pine (Pinus resinosa) and jack pine (Pinus banksiana). There were also significant open wetlands here, including fens and coastal marshes

This area is sparsely populated and much of it is presently forested. However, it has seen significant and somewhat diverse land use since European colonization. Forests here were almost entirely cleared for logging, with logging selectively focusing on conifers and having the effect of reducing the population of white pine, red pine, hemlock, and northern white-cedar. Especially in the east, forest cover was greatly reduced for gathering of firewood following European settlement. Ground moraine has been cleared for agriculture and pastureland, but unlike many areas farther south, there has been little clearing of wetlands. The largest threat to wetlands here has been from road construction and residential development, which has increased along the shore in recent years. The largest city here is Escanaba, MI.

Much of this region is bordered to the north by the Seney-Tahquamenon Sand Plain, a region with numerous wetlands and organic soils. In the east, it is bordered to the north by the Rudyard Clay Plain, an area with fairly homogenous clay soils. In the west, it is bordered to the southwest by the Menominee Drumlins and Ground Moraine, and, where the peninsula is thinner, there is a small direct border to the north with the Grand Marais Lakeshore.

References

1. Omernik, J.M., Bryce, S.A. "Michigan: Level III and IV Ecoregion Descriptions / Mapping Issues", US EPA (2007) Web.

2. Albert, Dennis A. "Regional landscape ecosystems of Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin: a working map and classification.", General Technical Report NC-178, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station, St. Paul, MN (1995) Web.