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Bark Bay

Back to Eastern Lake Superior

Counties: Bayfield


Aerial photo of Bark Bay site. (Eric Epstein)

Site Description

This site includes the Bark Bay Slough State Natural Area.

This large complex of coastal barrier spit, lagoon, springs, and wetlands occupies an embayment between two rocky headlands. The wetlands are extensive and include two major types: coastal fen and coastal bog. The fen dominants are typical of Lake Superior stands (i.e. woolly sedge, twig rush, sweet gale, water horsetail and buckbean). The coastal bog is composed of a mat of sphagnum mosses, ericaceous shrubs, sedges, and scattered small tamarack trees. Both communities are floristically diverse, in excellent condition, and support many rare species that include plants, birds and butterflies. A large lagoon occupies the center of the site and supports submergent and floating-leaved aquatic macrophytes. A forested interior spit parallel to the outer spit breaks the wetlands into two major sections. Communities are similar on both sides of the interior spit but the interior wetlands lack a central lagoon. Other significant features include a narrow strip of dry pine forest on the coastal spit, springs associated with the mouth of the Bark River on the eastern edge of the site, and small stands of tamarack and tall shrubs. The unnamed inlet stream on the west side of the site is bordered by several large clones of the invasive common reed grass.

Additional Comments

This site is a protection priority as its wetlands are extensive, in excellent condition, and support many rare, uncommon, and representative species. The common reed grass clone should be monitored and controlled, if necessary. A portion of the site is designated as a State Natural Area, but the boundary is not adequate to prevent negative impacts associated with increased development in the area. A broader view of the local watershed and the land uses therein is desirable to assess and better anticipate/address threats and protection needs.

Last revised: Wed, 20 Jun 2012 17:21:11 CDT