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Superior Municipal Forest

Back to Western Lake Superior

Counties: Douglas


Superior Municipal Forest. Aerial view of lower part of Little Pokegama River, 15 Oct. 1996. Photograph, E.J. Epstein.

Site Description

This site includes the Dwight's Point and Pokegama Wetlands State Natural Areas.

The City of Superior Municipal Forest contains a wealth of natural features unusual in the context of an urban-industrial center. Among the most significant of these are stands of mature coniferous forest, extensive emergent marsh, and wet clay flats supporting a mixture of shrub swamp and wet meadow. The site borders the St. Louis River Estuary, which dissects the uplands into a series of narrow, steep-sided ridges.

The extensive emergent marsh borders both sides of the Pokegama River (which is really an arm of the St. Louis River Estuary). Marsh composition is very similar to that of stands found along the lower stretches of the St. Louis. Dominants include bur-reed, bulrushes, arrowheads, and cattail. Deeper waters support submergent and floating-leaved macrophyte species. The invasive exotic purple loosestrife is uncommon but widespread in the marsh. Efforts to control it should begin as soon as possible.

The shrub swamp and meadow complex provides habitat for several rare plants. The dominant plants are typical of Lake Superior region stands on red clay and include speckled alder, willows, lake sedge, and bluejoint grass. This wetland is the southwesternmost portion of a former large and contiguous wetland that was partially destroyed and greatly disrupted by growth of the City of Superior. Rare animals such as Forster's Tern, Bald Eagle, and Merlin forage here.

The coniferous forests are composed primarily of species often associated with the boreal regions. Throughout the Lake Superior Clay Plain Ecoregional Subsection, this forest type has been greatly fragmented and often replaced by more monotypic stands of aspen. Thus the stands within this site have regional conservation significance. They could also provide a template for restoration actions considered elsewhere.

Additional Comments

The Superior Municipal Forest is a large natural community complex connected to a major fresh water estuary. A significant portion of this site was designated as a State Natural Area in 1996. This designation encompassed much of the mature forest and marsh, and also included a part of the wet red clay flats where rare plants occur.

Last revised: Wed, 20 Jun 2012 17:21:15 CDT