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Superior Airport - Hill Avenue Wetlands - South Superior Triangle

Back to Western Lake Superior

Counties: Douglas


Superior Red Clay Wetlands, 10 Nov. 1999. Photograph, E.J. Epstein

Site Description

This site is composed of several discontinuous wetlands separated by roads, railroad tracks, and other urban developments. These disconnected patches are among the largest remnants of a formerly contiguous wetland within the City of Superior. The wetlands are mosaics of shrub swamp and open meadow, with a few small patches of emergent marsh. Dominant shrubs are speckled alder and willows. Open meadows are typically dominated by broad-leaved sedges, such as lake sedge, and characteristic associates include flat-topped white aster, joe-pye weed, late goldenrod, bedstraw, bellflower, and marsh fern. Trembling aspen typically occupies drier portions of the sites. Despite severe disturbances that have altered their composition, structure, function, size, and configuration, these wetlands harbor significant populations of rare plants, some of which do not occur in other parts of Wisconsin. They also provide habitat for many native animals.

Because of habitat fragmentation and isolation, as well as disrupted hydrology, these wetlands are highly vulnerable to damage even in the absence of future developments. There is presently high interest at state and local levels in protecting the most biologically valuable and viable remnants. Management needs could be partially met by a combination of techniques such as brushing, prescribed burning, and scarification to create and perpetuate the microhabitats used by many of the rare species.

Additional Comments

Though far from pristine and in need of active management attention, the red clay wetlands of the Superior area constitute a unique resource that warrants high conservation priority.

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