region K Area 91A larger picture

Central Minnesota Sandy Outwash

Area in Western Lake Section of the Central Lowland Province of the Interior Plains.

Area entirely in Minnesota

Total Land Area 4,600 square miles (11,920 kilometers)

Towns/cities include:
Park Rapids, Perham, Wadena, Brainerd, St. Cloud, Monticello and Rosemount.

A small part of the White Earth Indian Reservation is in the northwest corner of the area. This MLRA has numerous State parks and State forests.


Consists of coarse textured outwash with thin, discontinous mantle of loamy material. Outwash thickness ranges from 3 to more than 100 feet (30 meters). Loamy glacial till underlies outwash. Organic material in many larger basins and depressions. Recent loamy alluvium on flood plains. Some glacial till along steep valley sidewalls. Western part of area underlain by undifferentiated Precambrian crystalline rock. Bedrock under easter area consists of numerous Cambrian-age sandstone and shale sedimentary units.

Consists of large outwash plains and stream terraces. Outwash deposited by Wisconsin age glaciers. Area gently undulation to rolling. Some steep areas on valley sidewalls.

Topography -

Elevation ranges from 820 to 1,470 feet (250 to 450 meters). Local relief mostly 10 - 20 feet (3 - 6 meters) but as much as 80 feet (25 meters) in some areas.


Average annual is 23 - 29 inches (585 to 735 millimeters).
77% of precipitation falls during growing season.
17% falls as snow.
Average annual temperature is 39 - 44 degrees F ( 4 - 6 degrees C)
Freeze free period averages 155 days (range 135 - 175 days)

Major Hydrologic Unit Areas

Name Code Extent*
Mississippi Headwaters (0701) 73%
Red (0902) 20%
Upper Mississippi-Black-Root (0704) 4%
Minnesota (0702) 3%

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

Mississippi river and its many tributaries drain most of this area.


Estimated withdrawls in this MLRA:
Public supply surface water 5.7% ground water 3.6%
Livestock surface water 0.9% ground water 0.3%
Irrigation surface water 16.9% ground water 72.6%
Other surface water 0% ground water 0%

Total Average Daily Withdrawls:
39 million gallons per day (150 million liters per day)
77% ground water
23% surface water

Surface water most abundant in western half. Normal precipitation years inadequate for crops and pasture on sandy soils. Dry years result in serious crop reduction yields. Irrigation widely used for high value crop production. Drainage of wet lowland soils needed for good crop production.

Surface water generally good quality and suitable for almost all uses. Ground water abundant in unconsolidated sand and gravel in surficial drift and buried drift aquifers throughout area. Deposits may be discontinuous in buried drift where lenses of sand and gravel are separated by lenses of till.

Till helps protect buried aquifer from surface activity contaminations. The two aquifer have water with median levels of 350 and 450 ppm (milligrams per liter) total dissolved solids. Both aquifers have calcium-magnesium-bicarbonate type water that is hard. Median level of iron exceeds 1,000 ppb (micrograms per liter) which is 3x's secondary standard esthetics in drinking water.

Good quality ground water available from sedimentary rocks in eastern half of area. Aquifers include St Peter and Prairie du Chien sandstone and dolomite Ironton-Galsevill sandstone and the Mount Simon-Hinckley sandstone.

Water from these aquafirs averages 250 to 350 ppm (milligrams per liter) total dissolved solids. All have calcium-magnesium-bicarbonate type water that is hard. The St. Peter aquifer is not as utilized because good aquifers occur above it.


  • Soils have a frigid soil temerature regime in northern part.
  • Mesic soil temperature regime in extreme south part.
  • Udic or aquic soil moisture regime and mixed mineralogy.
  • Upland soil generally well drained to excessively drained.
  • Very poorly drained Histosols in basins and depressions.
  • Dominant Soils:

  • Histosols
  • Mollisols
  • Great Group Series Location
    Hapludolls Arvilla, Esterville, Fairhaven series formed in outwash mantled with loamy material on outwash plains and stream terraces.
    Argiudolls Dorset, Malardi, Verndale series Same as above
    Hapludolls Hawick, Hubbard, Sandberg, Sparta series formed in outwash on outwash plains and stream terraces
    Haplosaprists Houghton, Markey, Seelyeville series formed in organic materials in basins and depressions

    Fauna and Flora

    Historically, Jack pine mixed with pin oak and bur oak on well drained soils on outwash plains. Oak savanna in much of area. Black spruce, tamarack, white cedar, black ash prominent on poorly drained / very poorly drained soils.

    Some wildlife species include white-tailed deer, black bear, ruffed grouse, sharp-tailed grouse. Relatively unaltered landscape supports high percentage of rare plants and animals in Minnesota.

    Land Use

    46% - Cropland - private
    10%% - Grassland - private
    0 - - Federal
    15% - Forest - private
    1% - - Federal
    5% - Urban development - private
    13% - Water - private
    10% - Other - private

    Cropland primarily feed grains and forage for livestock. Irrigation common in some areas for corn, soybean, potates and crops such as snap beans, peas and sweet corn are grown. Droughtiness limits crop selections in non-irrigated areas. Dairy and beef operations common.

    Forestland mainly pulp and timber production.

    Major resource concerns are water quality, nutrient management, improper grazing management and wind erosion.

    Conservation practices include crop rotations, crop residue management and field windbreaks. Nutrient management and pest management important for water quality concerns especially in sandy soils and where irrigated vegetable crops are grown. Pasture and hayland planting and prescribed grazing improve pastures and grazing management. Forest stand improvement and forest trails and landings reduce impact of timber management activities on water quality.

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