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Green Bay Till and Lacustrine Plain

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About the Green Bay Till and Lacustrine Plain

The Green Bay Till and Lacustrine Plain is a region of Wisconsin located roughly west of Green Bay, along the bay at its southernmost end, and extending quite a ways west and south. This area is not uniform, and can be seen as transitional between the surrounding regions.

Much of the region consists of flat, relatively unbroken plains, formed as outwash plains in the northwest, lake plains in the south, and ground moraines in the south and throughout. There are some local hilly features. There are numerous wetlands and lakes of varying sizes. The underlying bedrock is mostly limestone and dolomite, and is buried in most places under about 30 feet of glacial drift. The glacial drift here tends to be rocky and nutrient-rich, and surface soils here tend to be reddish and sandy to loamy in texture. The climate is a humid continental climate with cold winters, but moderated slightly by proximity to Lake Michigan, especially to the east.

This region originally supported a mix of open wetlands, forest, and some savanna. At the northernmost part of this region, and also along the lakeshore, there was some northern hardwood forest, with sugar maple (Acer saccharum), American beech (Fagus grandifolia), eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), and yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis). Northern white-cedar (Thuja occidentalis) was also locally common in conifer swamps along the lakeshore as well as in the north. To the south, Forests of sugar maple, American basswood (Tilia americana), and oak became more common, opening into oak savanna on the driest sites.

This area has been mostly cleared for agriculture. Agriculture is particularly intensive in the east, where the growing season is longer due to the lake's moderation of the climate. The main land use here has been pasture, but in recent years production of feed corn has increased. This area has significantly more wild forest than areas to the south. There are some small woodlots, but also larger tracts of forest, especially on poorly-drained bottomlands or steeper uplands. A large, unbroken tract of wild land, including old growth forest that has never been logged, exists in the Menominee Reservation of the Menominee people; this reservation also extends outside the region to the north and west. There is also significant protected land at the Navarino State Wildlife Area. Most of this region is rural and sparsely populated, but it does contain the northwesternmost portion of the Green Bay metro area, notably the city of Howard. Besides this, the next-largest city is Shawano; there are numerous towns throughout, mostly very small.

This region is bordered to the northeast by the Menominee Drumlins and Ground Moraine, a similar area but colder and with many drumlins, generally rare to absent in this region. To the north along the bay, it is borederd by the Menominee-Drummond Lakeshore, an area with more geologic diversity, bedrock closer to the surface, and thus a rockier coastline. To the south it is bordered by the Lake Michigan Lacustrine Clay Plain, which has more fine-textured soils. To the north it is bordered by the Wisconsin/Michigan Pine Barrens, which has a higher density of fire-prone, sandy soils. To the west, it is bordered by the Upper Wolf River Stagnation Moraine in the north, and the more sandy, drought-prone Central Sand Ridges in the south. Most of these borders are not well-defined, and represent gradual transitions.

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