region K Area 90B larger picture

Wisconsin and Minnesota Thin Loess and Till, Southern Part

Smaller seperate part of area in Minnesota is in Western Lake Section of the Central Lowland Province of the Interior Plains.
Most of larger area in Wisconsin Driftless Section of the same province and division.
Northern edges of Wisconsin portion in Superior Upland Province of Laurentian Upland.

Total Land Area 8,935 square miles (23,155 square kilometers)

Towns/cities include:
River Falls, Marshfield, Wausau, Rice Lake and St. Croix Falls Wisconsin
North St. Paul, Stillwater, Forest Lake and Foley Minnesota.

The area has no Federal land and has only a few State parks.
Numerous State Wildlife Areas including the Paul J. Olson, George W. Mead, Dewey Marsh, Sportsman Lake, Ackley, and McMillan Marsh State Wildlife Areas.


Most recently glaciated period straddled the Early Wisconsin Ice Age (early St. Croix and early Chippewa phases) and other glaciations (Baldwin, Dallas, Hamburg, and Nasonville phases). Glacial drift probably deposited 790,000 to 16,000 years ago and is dominantly from a Superior basin origin with no carbonates. May be underlain by older glacial drift from western source containing carbonates. Older drift deposited between 790,000 to 2,500,000 years ago.

Outwash generally confined to river valleys that previously carried glacial meltwaters. Ice-walled lakes and other glacial lakes common. Glacial lakes have distinctive landforms with smooth slopes and silty and clayey soils. Sandstone hills are dominantly weak Cambrian sandstones locally named the Tunnel City, Wonewoc, Eau Claire, and Mount Simon formations. A mantel of loess in most areas, ranging from a few inches (50 millimeters) to more than 6.5 feet (2 meters) in thickness.

Characterized by ground moraines, outwash plains, valley trains, glacial lakes and sandstone hills. Much of area gently undulating to rolling. Steepest areas adjacent to river valleys. Lakes, bogs, swamps, flood plains, and depressions fairly extensive.

Topography -

Elevation ranges from around 675 feet (205 meters) at St. Croix River near Prescott Wisconsin to around 1,550 feet (470 meters) near Medford Wisconsin. Local relief commonly 10 - 20 feet (3 - 6 meters) but can be more than 300 feet (90 meters) along St. Croix river.


Average annual precipitation 27 to 33 inches (685 to 840 millimeters).
Most precipitation via convective thunderstorms during growing season.
Annual snowfall 35 - 50 inches (90 to 125 centimeters).
Average annual temperature 40 - 46 degrees F (4 - 8 degrees C).
Freeze free period averages 160 days (range 135 - 180 days)

Major Hydrologic Unit Areas

Name Code Extent*
Chippewa (0705) 34%
Wisconsin (0707) 28%
St. Croix (0703) 15%
Mississippi Headwaters (0701) 12%
Upper Mississippi-Black-Root (0704) 11%

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

Major Rivers in this Area:
Mississippi, Chippewa, Black, Wisconsin, St. Croix


Estimated withdrawls in this MLRA:
Public supply surface water 5.4% ground water 5.3%
Livestock surface water 0.2% ground water 0.3%
Irrigation surface water 0.2% ground water 1.5%
Other surface water 81.1% ground water 6%

Total Average Daily Withdrawls:
1,140 million gallons per day (4,315 million liters per day)
13% ground water sources
87% surface water sources

Area has abundant supplies of both surface and ground water that meets all area needs. Surface water quality generally good and its use is not limited. Abundant supply of good-quality ground water are in both surficial and buried drift aquifers throught area.

Most ground water in eastern part of area comes from unconsolidate sand and gravel aquifers in glacial deposits. Western Wisconsin and Eastern Minnesota, ground water obtained from Cambrian sandstone and dolomite aquafirs. Precambrian crystalline rock provides some ground water in far western part of area. Ground water from all aquifers generally moderatly hard or hard. Water in Cambrian sandstone in W. Wisconsin may have some high concentrations of iron, manganese, and sulfides that limit use. All aquifers typically have less than 500 ppm (milligrams per liter) total dissolved solids.
Nitrates detected in majority of wells.

Wells in Cambrian formation yield less than 100 gallons per minute (380 liters per minute). The sand and gravel aquifer and the Prairie du Chien-Jordan aquifer yield 100 to more than 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). The Precambrian formation is not dependable and yields generally less than 20 gallons per minute (75 liters per minute). Flow of groundwater generally towards local streams and rivers. Regional flow at depth is toward Wisconsin and Chippewa Rivers.


  • Dominantly a frigid soil temperature regime.
  • Mesic in a few soils along St. Croix river
  • Minerology dominantly mixed but siliceous in a few areas.
  • Mixed or smectitic mineralogy.
  • Generally sandy to loamy and very deep.
  • Alluvium is sandy to silty.
  • Soils generally moderately deep to very deep, well drained to poorly drained. Thicker layers generally closer to St Croix River.

    Dominant Soils:

  • Alfisols
  • Entisols.
  • Histosols
  • Spodosols
  • Inceptisols
  • Mollisols occur at much lesser extent.
  • Great Group Series Location
    Glossudalfs Almena, Alstad, Branstad, Freeon, Loyal, Magnor, Spencer, Withee series formed on ground morains
    Glossudalfs Comstock, Crystal Lake, Grasston, Longsiding series formed mostly in glacial lakebeds in silty and clayey sediments
    Hapludalfs Dalbo series formed mostly in glacial lakebeds in silty and clayey sediments
    Glossudalfs formed on outwash plains and valley trains
    Hapludalfs Anigon, Brill, Antigo, Langlade, Brander, Blackriver, Ribriver, Rosholt, Chetek series formed in silty or loamy alluvium over outwash
    Udipsaments Menahga, Mahtomedi series formed entirely in outwash
    Glossudalfs Dobie series formed on sandstone hills in thin loess mantle over loamy residuum
    Hapludalfs Hayriver series formed in loamy slope alluvium and loamy residuum
    Psamments Twinmound series formed in sandy slope alluvium and sandy residuum
    Typic Haplosaprist Seelyeville series formed in organic material underlain by outwash, till, alluvium or lacustrine sediments in bogs
    Terric Haplosaprist Markey series formed in organic material underlain by outwash, till, alluvium or lacustrine sediments in bogs
    Dystrudepts Moppet series formed on flood plains in loamy and sandy alluvium
    Fluvaquents Fordum series formed on flood plains in loamy and sandy alluvium
    Endoaquolls Vancecreek series formed on flood plains that drain loess-mantled areas in silty alluvium

    Fauna and Flora

    Area in souther part of conifer-hardwood forest. Oak savanna, prairie, and lowland swamp occur in area. Sugar maple, basswood, yellow birch, white ash, red oak, white oak, aspen, eastern hemlock, red pine, white pine are dominant trees. Swampy areas support black ash, green ash, silver maple, red maple, swamp white oak, black spruce, tamarack, and speckled alder.

    Major wildlife species include white-tailed deer, black bear, ruffed grouse, wild turkey. Red fox, bobcat, coyote, mink, otter and beaver.

    Grassy lowlands and old pastures provide scattered prairie chicken and gray partridge habitat.

    Land Use

    34% - Cropland - private
    14%% - Grassland - private
    0 - - Federal
    28% - Forest - private
    0% - - Federal
    8% - Urban development - private
    2% - Water - private
    5% - Other - private

    Cropland and forestland are major land uses. Lumber and pulp production active.
    Agriculture includes row crops, dairy farms, and livestock.
    Major crops are corn, soybean, oats, barley, alfalfa.
    Small acreage used for sweet corn, potatoes, peas, snap beans, strawberries, apples and ginseng.

    Major soil resource concerns are water erosion, excessive soil wetness, soil fertility, soil tilth.

    Conservation practices include crop rotations, conservation tillage (esp. no-till systems), contour farming, contour stripcropping, grassed waterways. A combination of surface and subsurface drainage systems needed in most poorly drained soils.

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