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Black Ash Swamp Area

Back to Northern Lake Michigan

Counties: Kewaunee, Door


Black Ash Swamp Area, border of Door and Kewaunee Counties, 7 Nov. 2000. Black ash and tag alder. Photograph, E.J. Judziewicz.

Site Description

Black Ash Swamp is located five miles west of the Lake Michigan coast, northwest of Algoma on the border of Kewaunee and Door Counties. This is a large inland swamp situated on an old glacial lake with poorly drained muck soils. The entire site is privately owned and surrounded by agricultural land with low-density rural development. Though some portions are degraded, Black Ash Swamp represents a large, diverse lowland forest within a highly fragmented landscape and may be host to a number of rare species.

Black Ash Swamp contains two extensive forest community types featuring both northern and southern species as well as an undeveloped stretch of Silver Creek, a major tributary of the Ahnapee River. The northern portion of the swamp supports second growth northern wet to wet-mesic forest of black ash, white cedar, and paper birch. In some areas the swamp grades into pure lowland conifer stands of cedar and tamarack. The small yellow lady’s slipper, a species of special concern in Wisconsin, is abundant in the understory of this forest.

The southern portion supports a mixture of red maple, silver maple, green ash and black ash. Most areas contain a very open understory. Some portions are heavily dominated by silver maple and resemble a floodplain forest. High disturbance levels from logging and other uses have led to invasion by reed canary grass. Logging roads have altered the hydrology of the site and serve as an avenue for invasion by exotic species. Much of the understory, like other southern riparian forests, is heavily impacted by the spread of reed canary grass.

Private ownership of the site prohibited detailed floral and faunal surveys and limited field survey to those few tracts to which we had access. An updated and expanded survey is needed to determine the importance of this site to local and regional diversity. Due to the site's size and forest composition, it could harbor many species that are area sensitive including some that are found more commonly in northern Wisconsin. For example, surveys in 2001 discovered that this site harbors a small population of the federally endangered Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly. Since access to private land was not granted, further work was not done to document breeding areas.

Additional Comments

Priority is difficult to determine at this time, but rank should be at least medium due to the site's size, landscape context, and presence of rare species.

Text describing this site was published previously in a 2002 DNR publication entitled “A Data Compilation and Assessment of Coastal Wetlands of Wisconsin’s Great Lakes” by E.J. Epstein, A. Galvin and W.A. Smith.

NOAA logo Wisconsin Coastal Management Program logo This project was funded by the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management under the Coastal Zone Management Act.

Last revised: Wed, 20 Jun 2012 17:21:12 CDT