region K Area 95A larger picture

Northeastern Wisconsin Drift Plain

88% of area in Wisconsin
12% of area in Michigan.

Entire area in the Eastern Lake Section of the Central Lowland Province of the Interior Plains.

Total Land Area 86,495 square miles (16,825 square kilometers).

Towns/cities include:
Green Bay, Appleton, Oshkosh, Fond du Lac, Manitowoc, Sheboygan, and Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin,
Powers, Michigan.

The Oneida Indian Reservation in Wisconsin and Hannahville Indian Reservation in Michigan are in the parts of this area.

Small parts of the Escanaba River and Copper Country State Forests are in the Michigan portion.
A number of State parks are along the shore of Lake Michigan.


This area is covered about equally with glacial lake plain, till, and outwash deposits. Some of the higher areas are moraines that appear as ridges aligned from north to south. Most of the bedrock consists of early Paleozoic shale, limestone, and dolomite rocks. Some granitic rocks and metamorphosed sediments and volcanics underlie the western edge of the area. Silurian, Ordovician, and Cambrian sandstone, dolomite, and shale influence the landscape in some areas. Bedrock is moderately deep throughout much of the Door Peninsula.

The area is characterized by nearly level to rolling till plains, lake plains, and outwash plains mixed with drumlin fields, bedrockcontrolled moraines, lake terraces, flood plains, beaches, dunes, swamps, and marshes. The drumlins, moraines, and beaches form low hills and ridges. Lakes and streams are numerous, and streams generally form a dendritic drainage pattern.

Topography -

Elevation ranges from 660 to 1,310 feet (200 to 400 meters). Local relief is mainly 25 feet (8 meters), but some hills rise more than 165 feet (50 meters) above the adjacent lowlands.


The average annual precipitation is 30 to 36 inches (760 to 915 millimeters) in most of this area, but lower in areas south of and around Green Bay and along Lake Michigan.
About two-thirds of the rainfall occurs as high intensity, convective thunderstorms during the growing season.
The average annual temperature is 41 to 47 degrees F (5 to 8 degrees C).
The freeze-free period averages about 170 days and ranges from 130 to 205 days.
It is longest in the southern part of the area and in a narrow belt along Lake Michigan.

Major Hydrologic Unit Areas

Name Code Extent*
Lake Michigan (0403) 99%
Southwestern Lake Michigan (0404) 1%

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

Many of the rivers, such as the Peshtigo, Manitowoc, Menominee, Fox, and Wolf Rivers in Wisconsin and the Escanaba River in Michigan, empty into Lake Michigan. Lake Winnebago, east of Oshkosh, is the largest lake in Wisconsin.


Estimated withdrawls in this MLRA:
Public supply surface water 6% ground water 9.2%
Livestock surface water 0.5% ground water 1.6%
Irrigation surface water 0% ground water 0.2%
Other surface water 77.1% ground water 5.3%

Total Average Daily Withdrawls:
845 million gallons per day (3,200 million liters per day)
16% ground water sources
84% surface water sources

Ground water is plentiful in unconsolidated sand and gravel deposits in glacial drift, except in areas where the drift is clayey. All of the ground water in this area primarily contains calcium, magnesium, and bicarbonate ions. This water is moderately hard to very hard. It has an average of 220 parts per million (milligrams per liter) total dissolved solids in the western part of the area and an average close to 310 parts per million (milligrams per liter) in the unconsolidated sand and gravel aquifer in the eastern half of the area, closer to Lake Michigan. The levels of iron and manganese can exceed the State drinking water standards and may require treatment for esthetics.

The western part of this area has a sandstone, dolomite, dolomite-sandstone, and siltstone aquifer beneath the glacial deposits. The water in this aquifer is similar in quality to that in the glacial drift, but the levels of manganese do not exceed State standards for drinking water. Naturally occurring radium and fluoride levels do exceed drinking water standards in the Green Bay area.

Poorer quality ground water is in the Silurian Dolomite aquifer along the east edge of this area. This is typically the hardest ground water in the area. The levels of total dissolved solids commonly exceed the national secondary standard for drinking water of 500 parts per million (milligrams per liter). The water also is high in iron, but manganese levels are not so high as those of the water in the other aquifers.

The moderate precipitation generally is adequate for crops and pasture, but in years of little or no precipitation, lack of moisture damages crops growing on sandy soils.

The Fox River from Lake Winnebago to the city of Green Bay, along Lake Michigan, is heavily polluted. Many communities discharge their treated sewage effluent into this reach, and numerous paper companies discharge wastewater into the river.


  • Dominantly a mesic or frigid soil temperature regime.
  • Aquic or udic soil moisture regime
  • Mixed mineralogy.
  • Generally sandy to loamy and very deep.
  • Alluvium is sandy to silty.
  • Soils range from very deep and excessively drained to very poorly drained. Soils can be sandy to clayey.

    Dominant Soils:
  • Alfisols
  • Histosols
  • Spodosols
  • Great Group Series Location
    Hapludalfs Fox, Spinks, Emmet, Kewaunee, Kidder, Manawa, Ozaukee, and Onaway series formed in loess over outwash on plains, valley trains, and kames and in till or loess over till on moraines, and drumlins.
    Glossudalfs Hortonville and Keenan series formed in till on till plains, moraines, and drumlins.
    Argiudolls Hochheim series formed in loess over till on drumlins and moraines.
    Haplorthods Kalkaska Rousseau series formed in sandy glacial deposits on outwash plains, valley trains, and moraines and in sandy eolian deposits on dunes, lake plains, and outwash plains.
    Udipsamments Coloma, Menahga, and Plainfield series formed in sandy glacial deposits on outwash plains, valley trains, and moraines.
    Haplosaprists Carbondale, Cathro, Houghton, Lupton, Markey, and Tawas series formed in organic material in depressions on lake plains, outwash plains, and till plains.
    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

    Soils on the uplands support stands of mixed northern hardwoods and pine. Sugar maple, oak, white ash, elm, yellow birch, white pine, red pine, and American beech are the principal species. Lowland areas support both mixed hardwoods and conifers. Elm, soft maple, black ash, and northern white-cedar are the major species. Lowland brush and sedge meadows also occur in the low-lying areas.

    Major wildlife species include whitetailed deer, red fox, raccoon, pheasant, ruffed grouse, woodcock, blue-winged teal, and wood duck.

    Fishing occurs in the many lakes and rivers.

    Land Use

    49% - Cropland - private
    5% - Grassland - private
    0 - - Federal
    26% - Forest - private
    0% - - Federal
    10% - Urban development - private
    5% - Water - private
    5% - Other - private

    The area is used dominantly as cropland or pasture. Feed grains and hay are the chief crops. Much of the grain is fed to dairy cattle and other livestock on the farms where it is grown. Canning crops, fruits, and other specialty crops also are important. The rest of the land in farms is about equally divided between tame pasture and farm woodlots.

    About one-tenth of the MLRA is urban land, and development pressure is high.

    Major soil resource concerns are water erosion, storm-water management, nutrient management, surface and ground water quality, and wetland habitat management and restoration.

    Conservation practices on cropland generally include systems of crop residue management, such as mulch-till; cover crops; conservation cropping systems; and crop rotations. They also include grassed waterways, filter strips, and nutrient management.

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