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Menominee Drumlins and Ground Moraine

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About the Menominee Drumlins and Ground Moraine

The Menominee Drumlins and Ground Moraine are a region located mostly in the interior of Michigan's upper peninsula, and extending slightly into northeastern Wisconsin.

This region consist mostly of flat to gently rolling ground moraine, with numerous drumlins distributed fairly regularly throughout the region, oriented northeast-southwest. The region's bedrock of limestone and dolomite lies about 40 feet under the surface in most places. Soils here, being derived from calcium-rich rocks, tend to be more neutral in pH and higher in nutrients than most of the surroundings. The drumlins tend to have well-drained loamy soils, whereas the lower ground moraine tends to have more poorly-drained soils. The soils on the drumlins tend to be well-suited to Western agriculture. At the far north, the drumlins were sandier. A few small lakes can be found, following the northeast-southwest contours of the land. More common throughout the region are small open wetlands in smaller depressions. These lakes and wetlands are slowly drained by numerous small creeks and rivers.

Originally, the uplands here were mostly covered in northern hardwood forests, with sugar maple (Acer saccharum), American beech (Fagus grandifolia), eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), northern white-cedar (Thuja occidentalis), and yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis) (especially in the west.) The flatter, poorly-drained bottomlands supported swamps of northern white-cedar and tamarack (Larix laricina) at their drier margins, and black spruce (Picea mariana), open bogs, and wet meadows at their centers. The relative balance of wet bottomlands to dry uplands varied from 30 to 70% by site. In the far north of this region, the drier drumlins supported mixed-pine forest with red pine (Pinus resinosa), jack pine (Pinus banksiana), and eastern white pine (Pinus strobus).

This region has experienced significant clearing for agriculture, mostly for pasture and forage crops. Early agriculture here was initially mostly pastureland, but planting of hybrid corn has increased since the 1980's. Contrasting with many regions where agriculture mostly concentrates in flat bottomlands, the agriculture here concentrates on the uplands, as it is limited more by drainage than soil type. The poorly-drained bottomlands are more likely to be left intact.

Logging of the pine forest in the north was followed by fires, and the area has since converted to forest of large-tooth aspen (Populus grandidentata). Drumlins support second-growth northern hardwood forest, with similar composition to the original forests. Large areas of wetland remain here.

This region is bordered to the southeast by the Menominee-Drummond Lakeshore, a region of coastline on Lake Michigan with a more lake-moderated climate and higher diversity in its landforms. This border is gradual and ill-defined, as the density of the drumlins gradually decreases to the southeast. To the northeast, there is a border with the Grand Marais Lakeshore, an area of shoreline along Lake Superior, with sandier soils. This border is also rather ill-defined, but in this case the drumlins vanish long before the border. To the northwest there is a border with the Winegar Dead Ice Moraine, and east of that, a very small border with the rugged Michigamme Highland. The border to the west and southwest is with the Wisconsin/Michigan Pine Barrens, except in the far south of this region where there is a border to the southwest with the Green Bay Till and Lacustrine Plain.

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.