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Northern and Western Adirondack Foothills

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About the Northern and Western Adirondack Foothills

The Northern and Western Adirondack Foothills is a crescent-shaped region in upstate New York, partly surrounding the higher-elevation areas of the Adirondacks to the north, west, and southwest, and representing a transitional area between these mountains and the surrounding lowlands.

This region rises gradually from elevations of about 1,000 feet to about 1,600 feet, over a distance of 20-25 miles. The area is covered with thick glacial till, which obstructs stream drainage in many areas. The region tends to have a high water table and abundant wetlands, uncommon for an area as steep as this.

The region is narrowest, and the changes in elevation more abrupt, in the southwest and west of this region. In the north, the region is slightly wider, reflecting a more gradual transition with gentler slopes.

The forests here were originally dominated by spruce, but, following heavy logging, these were mostly removed and have not returned in appreciable numbers except on a few specific soil types. The area is now dominated by second-growth northern hardwood forests, including sugar maple, American beech, black cherry, and yellow birch. There are significant amounts of eastern white pine in the western foothills and on outwash in the north. Aspen and birch are more common in the north. Shallow or water-saturated soils can have coniferous forest of red spruce, white spruce, black spruce, and balsam fir. There are also bogs with black spruce and tamarack as dominant trees, and understories of sheep laurel and labrador tea.

There is only a small amount of agriculture in this area, mostly used for production of forage crops. The region is more actively utilized for logging, and there are also significant public lands preserved as wildlife habitat and used for recreation and tourism.

This region surrounds the Acid-Sensitive Adirondacks, except in the northeast, where it is bordered to the south by the Central Adirondacks in one spot. At the far northeast, where the foothills wrap around the Adirondacks, this region borders the Eastern Adirondack Foothills, a region ecologically-distinct enough that it is treated as separate from this one. Descending in elevation, this region borders the Upper St. Lawrence Valley to the north and west, and the Mohawk Valley to the south and southwest.

References

1. Bryce, S.A., Griffith, G.E., Omernik, J.M., Edinger, G., Indrick, S., Vargas, O., and Carlson, D. "Ecoregions of New York (Poster)", U.S. Geological Survey (2010) Web.