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Perkinstown End Moraines

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About the Perkinstown End Moraines

The Perkinstown End Moraines are a narrow, winding region extending roughly east-west through three counties in north-central Wisconsin. Some classification schemes lump this region in with a ridge of similar moraines that extend both east and west beyond this region.

Most of this region is hilly, with some of the most rugged topography of any of the surrounding regions; the landforms originated as terminal moraines that have collapsed in many places. Interspersed throughout are some very flat areas as well. Soils here are formed on glacial till, and tend to be coarse loams, moderately- to well-drained, and with little rock content, and tend to be acidic. Contrasting with the well-drained surface soils, the region as a whole is poorly-drained in part due to the moraines disrupting the original drainage patterns. Although there are few large lakes, there are numerous small kettle lakes throughout, and also numerous small wetlands, with significant diversity of wetland types, including peat bogs and marshes, with bogs more common in kettles and marshes more common where streams and rivers flow through flat areas, such as along the East Branch Eau Claire and Prairie rivers, which originate in this region and flow out of it to the south. Kettle ponds tend to have acidic conditions, but marshes along streams were often slightly more mineral-rich and could be less acidic.

This region was probably mostly covered in a conifer-rich variant of northern hardwood forest, with dominant trees being eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), sugar maple (Acer saccharum), American basswood (Tilia americana), and eastern white pine (Pinus strobus). Bogs supported black spruce (Picea mariana) and tamarack (Larix laricina), along with sphagnum moss and various sedges and heath shrubs. This region was mostly protected from fire, and windthrow was probably the main disturbance.

Presently this region is almost entirely covered in a mix of forest and open wetlands. There is some recreational land use here, including hunting, camping, and skiing. There are significant areas of protected public land, including both forest and wetland preserves. The region is mostly unpopulated, but there are a few small towns, the largest of which are Rib Lake and Westboro, followed by Chelsea, and a few even smaller, unincorporated communities, but the larger towns mostly exist at the flatter margins of this region.

Over its entire length, this region is bordered to the south by the flatter, more agricultural Central Wisconsin Undulating Till Plain. At its western end, it is partly surrounded and bordered to the north by the Chippewa Lobe Rocky Ground Moraines, a region that is less rugged and has rockier soils. Over most of the eastern part of this region it is bordered to the north by the Northern Wisconsin Highlands Lakes Country, a slightly flatter area with sandy soils and a higher density of lakes, particularly larger lakes. At its eastern end, this region is bordered to the northeast by the Brule and Paint River Drumlins, a slightly less rugged region with finer-textured soils and northeast-southwest-trending drumlins. In the far east there is also a very small border to the southwest with the Upper Wolf River Stagnation Moraine, a slightly less rugged region with rockier soils.