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Nemadji River Bottoms

Back to Western Lake Superior

Counties: Douglas


Nemadji River Bottoms. Cut-off oxbow in boreal forest, near Minnesota state line, May 1995. Photograph, E.J. Judziewicz.

Site Description

This portion of the deeply incised Nemadji River valley is mostly forested but also contains abandoned oxbows with emergent marsh, sedge meadow, and shrub swamp communities. The level landscape above the valley slopes away from the river is a mixture of small farms, woodlots, and residential areas.

The mesic floodplain terrace forest type present here is rare and possibly unique to the Lake Superior Clay Plain subsection. This forest community occurs on terraces inside the sharp meanders of the river situated 3-5 meters above normal flow stages. The canopy is dominated by black ash, and includes green ash, basswood, red maple, silver maple, balsam poplar, and bur oak. Scattered conifers (white spruce, white cedar, white pine and balsam fir) are also members of the canopy, though their cover is highest on the steep slopes above the river and terraces. The herb layer is exceptionally rich, and while no rare plants species have been documented here to date, the flora is diverse and contains many plants more typical of rich maple-basswood forests far to the south. Spring ephemerals and their associates are especially well-represented.

Additional Comments

Though not a virgin stand, many large trees remain and there has been little recent disturbance. Douglas County is the principal landowner and is partially protecting the site via a special use designation. This site, and a similar stand several miles upstream, have many properties which are unique at least at the regional level. Protection efforts should be strongly encouraged throughout the Nemadji corridor, including the steep, fragile clay slopes where protection or restoration of long-lived coniferous trees is highly desirable. Slumping banks are common on the outside of stream meanders, and the Nemadji River contributes a great deal of sediment to Allouez and Superior bays. The slopes bordering this river were badly damaged during past logging events. Present cover is mostly trembling aspen.

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