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Wisconsin and Minnesota Thin Loess and Till, Northern Part

Wisconsin and Michigan portions of this area fall within the Superior Upland Province of the Laurentian Upland.

Minnesota portions mainly in Western Lake Section of the Central Lowland Province of the Interior Plains

Total Land Area 17, 535 square miles (45,440 square kilometers)

  • Area in Wisconsin (69%)
  • Minnesota ( 26%)
  • and Michigan ( 5% )
  • Towns/cities include:
    Fredrick, Ladysmith, Park Falls, and Wittenberg Wisconsin.
    Cloquet, Hinckley and Milaca Minnesota
    Iron River Michigan

    Indian Reservations include (parts or all of) St. Croix Chippewa, Lac Court Oreilles, Lac Du Flambeau, Menominee, Potawatomi, Stockbridge, and Mole Lake.


    Precambrian-age bedrock underlies most glacial deposits. Bedrock complex of folded and faulted igneous and metamorphic rock. Bedrock terrain modified by glaciation and covered in most areas by Pleistocene deposits and windblown silts. Glacial deposits almost continuous cover in most areas. Drift is as much as several hundred feet thick in many areas. Loess covered area shortly after glacial ice melt.

    Wisconsin and Michigan portions of this area fall within the Superior Upland Province of the Laurentian Upland. Three distinct lobes of the Laurentian Ice Sheet played major roles in landscape shape:

  • Superior
  • Chippewa
  • Green Bay
  • Landscape is gently undulating to rolling, loess-mantled till plains, drumlin fields and end moraines mixed with outwash plains associated with major glacial drainageways, swamps and bogs. In some areas, lake plains and ice-walled lakes are significant. Steeper areas occur mostly as valley slopes along flood plains.

    Topography -

    Elevation ranges from 1,100 to 1,950 feet (335 to 595 meters). Local relief mostly less than 10 to 20 feet (3 -6 meters) with some major hills/valleys 200 feet (60 meters) above adjacent lowland.


    Average annual precipitation in area is 26 to 34 inches (660 to 865 millimeters).
    Precipitation distributed throughout year with slight peak in spring. Convective thunderstorms common during growing season.

    Average annual temperature 38 - 45 degrees F (3-7 degrees C)
    Freeze free period averages 145 days (range 110 - 180 days)

    Major Hydrologic Unit Areas

    Name Code Extent*
    Chippewa (0707) 29%
    St. Croix River (0705) 24%
    NW Lake Michigan (0401) 23%
    Mississippi Headwaters (0701 ) 13%
    Wisconsin ( 0707) 8%
    Western Lake Superior (0401) 3%

    * this is the percent of area drained by each named hydrologic unit

    Major rivers crossing area include:
    Chippewa, St. Croix, Mississippi and Wisconsin

    The St. Croix and Wolf Rivers in Wisconsin have been designated National Scenic Rivers. The Pine and Popple Rivers in Wisconsin and the Rum and Kettle Rivers in Minnesota have been designated as National Wild and Scenic Rivers.


    Estimated withdrawls in this MLRA:
    Public supply surface water 14.5% ground water 8.3%
    Livestock surface water 2.1% ground water 3.1%
    Irrigation surface water 1.5% ground water 6.9%
    Other surface water 63% ground water 0.5%

    Total daily withdrawls average 205 million gallons per day (775 million liters).
    19% Ground water sources
    81% Surface water sources

    Precipitation generally adaquate for crops. Dry years cause crop damage in sandy soils. Wet lowlands need drainage for good crop and forage production. Surface and ground water abundant. Water quality generally good.

    Landlocked lakes and lakes/streams bordering bogs and swamps more acidic than other surface waters in area. Spring fed lakes have highest PH value. Water very soft in most lakes, with hard water occuring in spring fed lakes/streams.

    Ground water in deep glacial deposits in most of area. Also occurs in sedimentary and volcanic rocks in western part of area. Water scarce where layer of drift is thin.

    Dissolved solids in ground water from various aquifers in area typically around 200 ppm (milligrams per liter) and water is generally moderatly hard or hard. Level of total dissolved solids higher in areas with high content of limestone in glacial deposits. Most obtain ground water from unconsolidated glacial sand and gravel deposits on or near surface. Some wells tap Cambrian sandstone in southwestern part of Wisconsin area.

    NW Wisconsin (Ashland and Bayfield counties) where glacial deposits do not occur, and in much of Minnesota area, ground water from sedimentary and volcanic rock aquifers used. Water of good quality but many soils have porous layers allowing domestic and agriculture waste through. Some minor problems from high concentrations of iron. Approx 65% of wells in Michigan area have more than 1,500 ppb (micrograms per liter) Iron.

    Water yields vary.
    Glacial drift consisting of sand and gravel yield 100 to 1,000 gallons per minute (380 to more than 3,785 liters per minute).
    Glacial till yields generally less than 100 gallons per minute (380 liters per minute).


  • Frigid soil temperature regime.
  • Aquic or udic soil moisture regime.
  • mixed mineralogy
  • Dominant Soils:

  • Alfisols
  • Entisols.
  • Histosols
  • Spodosols
  • Organic soils in Agassi Basin somewhat lower on landscape than surrounding mineral soils. Large areas of organic soils in Upham and Aitkin Basins typically, slightly domed and higher on landscape than surrounding mineral soils.

    Great Group Series Location
    Glossudalfs Amery, Brennyville, Freeon, Frogcreek, Glendenning, Haugen, Magnor, Milaca, Mora, Stinnett, Santiago series formed in a thin, discontinuous silty mantle over firm or friable till
    Glossudalf Antigo, Sconsin, Billyboy, Ossmer series formed in outwash mantled with silty material
    Glossudalf Rosholt, Scoba, Scott Lake, Chetek and Oesterle series formed in outwash mantled with loamy material
    Udipsamments Grayling, Mahtomedi, Friendship series formed in sandy outwash on outwash plains and stream terraces
    Haplorthods Beaverbay, Chequamegon, Mudlake, Wabeno, Soperton series formed in sandy loam or loamy sand till mantled
    Haplorthods Newot, Newood, Pesabic, Kennan, Sarona, Sarwet, Keweena, Parkfalls, Stanberry series formed entirely in till
    Haplorthods Stambaugh, Vanzile Spiderlake series formed in outwash plains, outwash mantled with silty material
    Haplorthods Padus, Pence, Tipler, Manitowish series formed in outwash mantled with loamy material
    Haplorthods Vilas, Lindquist, Croswell, Chinwhisker series formed in sandy outwash
    Glossaqualfs Cebana series formed in till mantled with silty material. They are in swales.
    Epiaqualfs Capitola, Wozny series formed in sandy loam or loamy sand till in depressions on moraines.
    Haplosaprists Lupton, cathro, Loxley, Beseman series formed in organic deposits in basins and depressions
    Fluvaquents Fordum series formed in loamy alluvium on flood plains

    Fauna and Flora

    Conifer-hardwood forest. Sugar maple, basswood, yellow birch, white ash, red oak, white oak, aspen, eastern hemlock, red pine, white pine dominate trees. Poorly drained soils support black ash, green ash, silver maple, red maple, swamp white oak, black spruce, tamarack, speckled alder.

    Wildlife species include white-tailed deer, black bear, ruffed grouse, sharp-tailed grouse.

    State wildlife areas and substantial national and county forests provide good habitat.

    Land Use

    10% - Cropland - private
    7% - Grassland - private
    3% - - Federal
    58% - Forest - private
    7% - - Federal
    3% - Urban development - private
    5% - Water - private
    2% - Water - Federal
    5% - Other - private

    Forest land supports paper and lumber industry. Sap collection from sugar maple and syrup production important forestry enterprises. Crops include corn, soybean, oat, wheat, alfalfa.

    Major soil resource management concerns are water erosion, wetness, soil fertility, soil tilth. Conservation practices on cropland include crop rotation, conservation tillage systems (esp. no-till systems) contour farming, contour strip cropping, and grassed waterways.

    Combination of surface and subsurface drainage systems is needed in most areas of poorly drained soils.

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