region K Area 94c larger picture

Michigan Northern Lower Peninsula Sandy Drift

Eastern Lake Section of the Central Lowland Province of the Interior Plains.

Total Land Area 2,000 square miles (5,185 square kilometers).

Area entirely in the northern part of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan

Towns/cities include:
Cheboygan, Rogers City, and Alpena

Numerous parts of the Mackinaw State Forest occur in the area.


This area is covered with thin to thick glacial deposits. Bedrock is generally at shallow depths and is evident throughout the area. It consists of Devonian limestone and dolomite with interbedded shale, chert, and anhydrite stringers. Karst features are very common in the area..

It is dominated by lake plains, some of which are till-floored plains. Scattered drumlins, moraines, and outwash plains are throughout the area. The terrain includes flat outwash and lake plains and steep slopes in areas of moraines.

Topography -

Elevation ranges from 580 to 960 feet (175 to 295 meters).


The average annual precipitation is 28 to 34 inches (710 to 865 millimeters).
The western one-third of the area is wetter than the eastern two-thirds.
The average annual snowfall is 51 to 90 inches (130 to 230 centimeters).
The average annual temperature is 42 to 45 degrees F (5 to 7 degrees C).
The freezefree period averages about 160 days and ranges from 125 to 190 days.

Major Hydrologic Unit Areas

Name Code Extent*
Northwestern Lake Huron (0407) 92%
Northeastern Lake Michigan-Lake Michigan (0406) 8%

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

Major rivers crossing area include:
The Cheboygan, Ocqueoc, and Thunder Bay Rivers are the major streams in the area.

A reach of the Pigeon River is a National Wild and Scenic River in the south-central part of this area.


Estimated withdrawls in this MLRA:
Public supply surface water 33.4% ground water 8.4%
Livestock surface water 17.2% ground water 41%
Irrigation surface water 0% ground water 0%
Other surface water 0% ground water 0%

Total daily withdrawls average 1.2 million gallons per day (4.5 million liters).
49% Ground water sources
51% Surface water sources

It is surrounded by Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. It has many high-quality cold-water streams and lakes, which generally have a calcium bicarbonate type of water that can have high levels of dissolved solids.

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 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. It is hard, and the median level of total dissolved solids is about 200 to 250 parts per million (milligrams per liter).

Silurian-Devonian sedimentary rocks underlie the glacial deposits. They are mostly shale and are not used as sources of water in this area. Dolomite and anhydrite are in the bedrock, and karst features are common on the land surface. There is potential for contamination reaching other bedrock aquifers through the solution cracks and openings in the limestone or dolomite bedrock.

Agricultural activities and road salts are the primary sources of potential contamination in the shallow glacial deposits.


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

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

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

    Fauna and Flora

    This area is in a conifer-hardwood forest. Sugar maple, basswood, yellow birch, white ash, red oak, white oak, aspen, eastern hemlock, red pine, and white pine are the dominant trees.

    Poorly drained soils support black ash, green ash, silver maple, red maple, swamp white oak, black spruce, tamarack, and speckled alder.

    whitetailed deer, black bear, eastern gray wolf, ruffed grouse, sharptailed grouse, woodcock, fox squirrel, snowshoe hare, and waterfowl.

    Red fox, bobcat, coyote, muskrat, fisher, mink, otter, raccoon, and beaver are the main furbearers.

    A small herd of elk was released in this area, and the number of elk is increasing.

    Land Use

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

    This area has a significant acreage of public and private forestland used to support the paper and lumber industry. Sap collection from sugar maple and syrup production are important forestry enterprises.

    Agricultural enterprises include row crops, dairy farms, and beef operations. Crops include corn, soybeans, oats, wheat, and alfalfa. Tourism, recreation, and wildlife management are important.

    The major soil resource management concerns are water erosion, 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.

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