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Upper St. John Wet Flats

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About the Upper St. John Wet Flats

The Upper St. John Wet Flats is a relatively flat, high-elevation region in northern Maine along the border with Quebec.

This region is a plateau, with gently rolling terrain and some low hills. Dissection of the terrain is light to moderate. Although there are few lakes, there are extensive wetlands throughout the region, including ribbed fens originating from less acidic water draining into an acidic peatland, raised bogs, and wetlands originating from beaver dams. The region originated from a dead-ice or stagnation moraine, where a glacier stopped moving and melted in place, leaving dense, highly compressed till that blocks drainage of water. This substrate keeps the water table high. The poor drainage also creates local areas of peat and organic soils.

Original forest cover here was mostly spruce-fir forest with red and black spruce, and balsam fir. There was some northern hardwood forest, with sugar maple and yellow birch. Recently disturbed areas featured early-successional forests of poplar, birch, aspen, and red maple. There were also northern white cedar swamps with northern white cedar, black spruce, red maple, black ash, balsam fir, and sphagnum moss. There were also low sedge fens, sedge-heath fens, black spruce bogs, and black spruce-heath barrens. Overall, black spruce was much more common in this region due to abundance of the poorly-drained habitats it prefers.

This region is still mostly forested. It is primarily utilized for forestry, hunting, fishing, recreation, and wildlife habitat. The U.S. side of this region is sparsely populated and there is not even much of a road network other than dirt roads for logging operations. The Canadian side of the border is more developed, with a road network, but still sparsely populated; the largest is Lac-Frontière, Quebec, under 200 people.

This region is bordered to the south and east by the St. John Uplands, a region that tends to be much better-drained, and to the northeast by the International Boundary Plateau, a similar plateau region that has slightly more rugged terrain and fewer wetlands.

References

1. Griffith, G.E., Omernik, J.M., Bryce, S.A., Royte, J., Hoar, W.D., Homer, J.W., Keirstead, D., Metzler, K.J., and Hellyer, G. "Ecoregions of New England (Poster)", U.S. Geological Survey (2009) Web.