region K Area 94B larger picture

Michigan Eastern Upper Peninsula Sandy Drift

Most of this area is in the Eastern Lake Section of the Central Lowland Province of the Interior Plains.

The western one-fifth is in the Superior Upland Province of the Laurentian Upland.

Total Land Area 9,810 square miles (25,425 square kilometers)

83% of area in Michigan

17% in Wisconsin

Towns/cities include:
Menominee, Iron Mountain, Escanaba, Manistique, St. Ignace, Newberry, Seney, Grand Marais, and Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
Shawano, Keshena, Pembine, and Wausaukee, Wisconsin

Indian Reservations include:
The Bay Mills Indian Reservation in Michigan
The Menominee Indian Reservation in Wisconsin.

The Hiawatha National Forest, parts of the Copper Country, Escanaba River, and Lake Superior State Forests are in Michigan,
and the Nicolet National Forest in Wisconsin
Mackinac Island is included in the area, and part of the Mackinaw State Forest is on the island.


This area is covered about equally with glacial lake plain, till, and outwash deposits. The underlying bedrock is dominantly Silurian, Ordovician, or Cambrian sandstone or limestone bedrock types. Some granitic rocks and metamorphosed sediments and volcanics underlie the western edge.

The area has many glacial landscape features and is dissected by numerous streams and rivers. It is characterized by a mixture of low-relief ground moraines, lacustrine deposits, and glaciofluvial deposits and some higher relief, bedrock controlled moraines in the extreme southwest part.

Topography -

Elevation ranges from 580 to 1,400 feet (175 to 425 meters). Local relief is mainly 25 feet (8 meters) or less, but some hills and drumlins rise more than 165 feet (50 meters) above the adjacent lowlands.


The average annual precipitation in most of this area is 30 to 36 inches (760 to 915 millimeters)
About two-thirds of the rainfall occurs as high-intensity, convective thunderstorms during the growing season.
The average annual temperature in most of this area is 39 to 42 degrees F (4 to 6 degrees C)
The freeze-free period averages about 150 days and ranges from 120 to 180 days.

The Great Lakes help to moderate the climate of this MLRA.

Major Hydrologic Unit Areas

Name Code Extent*
Northwestern Lake Michigan (0403) 46%
Northeastern Lake Michigan-Lake Michigan (0406) 21%
Southern Lake Superior-Lake Superior (0402) 20%
Northwestern Lake Huron (0407) 10%
Southwestern Lake Huron (0408) 3%

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

Major rivers crossing area include:
The Oconto, Peshtigo, and Menominee Rivers in Wisconsin
The Escanaba, Ford, Whitefish, and Manistique Rivers in Michigan empty into Lake Michigan.
The Two Hearted, Sucker, and Tahquamenon Rivers in Michigan drain into Lake Superior.
The Munuscong, Carp, and Pine Rivers drain into Lake Huron.

The Pine and Pike Rivers are National Wild and Scenic Rivers, and the Wolf River is a National Scenic River in the part of this area in Wisconsin.

The Two Hearted River in Michigan is a National Wild and Scenic River.


Estimated withdrawls in this MLRA:
Public supply surface water 39.1% ground water 24.7%
Livestock surface water 2.3% ground water 5.4%
Irrigation surface water 2.7% ground water 4.1%
Other surface water 13.64% ground water 8.1%

Total daily withdrawls average 37 million gallons per day (140 million liters).
42% Ground water sources
58% Surface water sources

Many small lakes, a few large lakes, and numerous perennial streams are sources of good-quality surface water in this area.

Ground water is abundant in the unconsolidated sand and gravel and lakebed sands in the glacial deposits that cover almost all of this area. The highest yielding wells are in the outwash deposits within the drift, but some domestic water also is pumped from glacial lake sediments and the till itself. This water is suitable for almost all uses with little or no treatment.

The median level of total dissolved solids is about 200 to 250 parts per million (milligrams per liter). Glacial drift covers the bedrock aquifers in this area and helps to protect them from contamination. Agricultural activities, municipal and industrial waste discharges, and road salts are the primary sources of contamination.

Three bedrock aquifers, Silurian-Devonian sediments, Cambrian-Ordovician sandstone and dolomite, and Precambrian sandstone, occur in the part of this area in Michigan. The Cambrian-Ordovician sandstone extends south and west into the part of the area in Wisconsin. The water in these bedrock aquifers is similar in quality to the water in the glacial aquifers, but it has slightly more total dissolved solids. It tends to be fresher where the glacial aquifers are in contact with the bedrock aquifers and are recharging the water in the bedrock aquifers. Water from the bedrock aquifers is of good quality and is suitable for almost all uses.


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

  • Alfisols
  • Entisols.
  • Histosols
  • Spodosols
  • Soils range from shallow to very deep, excessively drained to very poorly drained, and sandy to clayey.

    Great Group Series Location
    Hapludalfs Nadeau, Emmet and Onaway series formed in loess over on outwash plains, valley trains, kames, in till or loess on till plains, moraines, and drumlins.
    Glossudalfs Pemene, Frechette, Kennan, Ellwood, Crossett, Rabeand, Perote, and Oconto series formed in till over outwash, in sandy deposits over till, moraines, and drumlins.
    Haplorthods Kalkaska, Mancelona, Croswell, Au Gres, and Rubicon series (and more) formed in sandy glacial deposits on outwash plains, valley trains, and moraines, sandy deposits over till or limestone or igneous bedrock, and sandy deposits on dunes and lake plains.
    Udipsamments Menahga, Shawano series formed in sandy eolian deposits on dunes and lake plains or in sandy outwash on outwash plains, valley trains, and moraines.
    Haplosaprists Carbondale, Cathro, Lupton, Markey, and Tawas series formed in organic material in depressions on lake plains, outwash plains, and till plains.

    Fauna and Flora

    This area support natural stands of mixed northern hardwoods and pine. Sugar maple, oak, white ash, elm, yellow birch, white pine, jack pine, red pine, and American beech are the principal tree species.

    Lowland areas support both mixed hardwoods and conifers. Elm, soft maple, black ash, black spruce, tamarack, and northern white-cedar are the major species.

    Wildlife species include whitetailed deer, black bear, red fox, snowshoe hare, squirrel, ruffed grouse, woodcock, and wood duck.

    Land Use

    3% - Cropland - private
    3% - Grassland - private
    1% - - Federal
    67% - Forest - private
    16% - - Federal
    3% - Urban development - private
    2% - Water - private
    1% - - Federal
    4% - Other - private

    80% - Forested
    Agriculture includes dairy and livestock operations, hay and feed grains are the main crops, with fruits and other specialty crops grown in remaining agriculture areas.

    Recreation is another important land use in this area

    The major soil resource management concerns are water erosion, excessive soil wetness, soil fertility, and soil tilth.

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

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