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Bad River-Kakagon Sloughs

Back to Eastern Lake Superior

Counties: Iron


Bad River Sloughs. Honest John Lake; sedge mat and pools, 16 June 1996. Photograph by E.J. Epstein.

Site Description

This site is a very large estuarine wetland complex located in northern Ashland County on the Lake Superior coast. It lies on a lacustrine clay plain deposited during the last glaciation. It is a very rich, dynamic and intact mosaic of many natural communities bordering the lower Bad and Kakagon rivers. The major wetland communities at this site include emergent marsh, coastal fen, coastal bog, tamarack swamp, and shrub swamp. A series of coastal lagoons support beds of submergent and floating-leaved aquatic plants and provides critical habitat for many aquatic animals. These communities are the most extensive and among the least disturbed of their respective types on Western Lake Superior and rank among the most significant in the Great Lakes. Many rare plants and animals have been documented here. A long coastal barrier spit (see "Long Island-Chequamegon Point") borders the Bad and Kakagon wetlands on the north. South of U.S. Highway 2, the course of the Bad River is confined between steep clay banks. Communities include rich mesic hardwood forests of sugar maple-basswood, floodplain forest of silver maple-green ash, black ash swamp, shrub swamp, hemlock-hardwood forest, and oxbow lakes. A large complex of tamarack swamp, white cedar swamp, black ash swamp, and fen occurs where the river exits the deep clay "canyons" to spread out over the lake plain to the north. Most of the site is within the Reservation of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. These are not public lands and all requests for additional information or visitation must go through the tribal government offices at Odanah, Wisconsin.

Additional Comments

Very This site may be the largest freshwater estuarine system of this size, type and quality in the world. It supports a great diversity of high quality natural communities and rare plant and animal species.

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