Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
ELEVATION: 1,200 to 1,600 feet (366 to 488 m).
AREA: 1,634 square miles (4,233 sq km).
CLIMATE: Growing season length ranges from 111 to 131 days (University of Minnesota et al. 1971, 1977). Total annual precipitation ranges from 26 to 28 inches, and annual snowfall is 48 to 52 inches (Wendland et al. 1992). Only 12 to 16 percent of the annual precipitation falls during winter. Extreme minimum temperatures are -45½F or colder (Reinke et al. 1993).
BEDROCK GEOLOGY: Glacial drift is relatively thick, ranging from 100 to 400 feet (Olsen and Mossler 1982). Lower Precambrian undivided granites, metavolcanics, and metasedimentary rocks underlie the glacial drift (Sims et al. 1970).
LANDFORMS: Subsection consists primarily of distinct end moraines, but there is also pitted outwash at the northeast edge and ground moraine at the southern edge; Hobbs and Goebel (1982) treat the end moraines as part of the Sugar Hills moraine association of the Des Moines lobe, and the ground moraine of the Swatara plain as part of the Culver moraine of the same lobe.
LAKES AND STREAMS: Potholes and small bogs are common, and lakes are numerous (University of Minnesota et al. 1971). The moraines and outwash contain more than 100 lakes larger than 160 acres; lakes account for approximately 8 percent of the surface area.
SOILS: Clay loam and loam soils account for most of the soils (University of Minnesota et al. 1971, 1977). Soils are classified as Boralfs, Aqualfs, Hemists, and Psamments, with Boralfs most common (Cummins and Grigal 1981).
PRESETTLEMENT VEGETATION: White pine-red pine forest covered large parts of the steep moraines and parts of the pitted outwash along the eastern edge of the subsection. Aspen-birch forest also grew on the moraines, but it was best represented on the outwash, most of which had well to excessively drained sandy soils. Local areas of mixed hardwood-pine forest were found on the moraines, generally near large lakes, where there were possibly better fire protection and less severe spring frost. Some of the best northern hardwood forest, dominated by sugar maple, grew on the moraines near Grand Rapids. Conifer swamp and bogs were scattered throughout the subsection, occupying both kettles and linear depressions in the pitted outwash and moraines.
NATURAL DISTURBANCE: Both fire and windthrow were probably common.
PRESENT VEGETATION AND LAND USE: High-quality examples of the following plant communities are well represented in this subsection: northern hardwood forest, red pine forest, white pine forest, northern white-cedar swamp, and poor fen. Inventories have been insufficient to adequately evaluate most plant communities in the subsection.
RARE PLANT COMMUNITIES: Some of the best examples of old-growth red pine and white pine forests occur in Scenic State Park.
RARE PLANTS: Little inventory work has been done in this subsection. None identified to date.
RARE ANIMALS: Haliaeetus leucocephalus (bald eagle), Pandion haliaetus (osprey). Generally little inventory work has been done in this subsection.
NATURAL AREAS: State Natural Areas: Botany Bog, Ladies-tresses Swamp; Research Natural Areas: Clustered Bur Reed Bog.
PUBLIC LAND MANAGERS: State Forests: Big Fork, Bowstring, Crow Wing, George Washington, Hill River, Land O'Lakes, Remer; State Parks: Scenic; Wildlife Management Areas: Little Hill River, Little Willow River; National Forests: Chippewa.
CONSERVATION CONCERNS: Accelerated timber harvest with resulting fragmentation, loss of mature forests, and simplification of forest communities.