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Keweenaw-Baraga Moraines

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About the Keweenaw-Baraga Moraines

The Keweenaw-Baraga Moraines is a region in Michigan's Upper Peninsula located along Lake Superior, in the area surrounding Keweenah Bay. This region is divided by Houghton Channel.

This region consists mostly of large glacial moraines, including both terminal moraines and ground moraine, reaching 500 feet thick in places. The moraines were originally derived from sandstone, shale, and basalt, the bedrock of this region, and mostly form soils of well-drained sand and sandy loam. Along Keweenah Bay, however, there is a poorly-drained lake plain, with finer, silty loam soils. There is also an area of outwash plains, called the Baraga Plains, with coarser, excessively-drained sand. The climate here is humid and continental, significantly moderated by the lake; the growing season of 110-130 days is much longer than that of the higher-elevation regions to the southeast. This region also receives heavy lake effect snow, up to 200 inches annually.

Originally, this area was mostly forested. Deep, loamy soils supported eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), sugar maple (Acer saccharum), and yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis), with yellow birch particularly common to the northernmost end of the Keweenaw Peninsula. Riparian areas and poorly-drained portions of the lake plain supported mixed conifer swamps of northern white-cedar (Thuja occidentalis), black spruce (Picea mariana), tamarack (Larix laricina), and alder. The fire-prone Baraga plains were covered in red pine (Pinus resinosa) and jack pine (Pinus banksiana).

There is a small amount of agriculture on areas with well-drained loamy sands, enabled by the lake-moderated climate, producing hay and potatoes. There has also been significant logging and mining. This region is sparsely populated; it contains only a few small towns, the largest of which are L'Anse and Lake Linden. However, in recent years there has been increasing amounts of recreational development along the shoreline as well as some of the inland lakes.

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.