Lake Michigan and Superior Landscapes
Two of the planet’s largest freshwater lakes are part of Wisconsin’s legacy. Lake Superior is the world’s largest lake by surface area. It supports extensive areas of deep water environments and has a mostly intact shoreline. Lake Michigan, by contrast, is heavily developed and has seen extensive habitat degradation over the last century. Most of Lake Michigan’s quality shore land features are in Door County. Important landscape features are ridge and swale complexes, bedrock influenced terrestrial communities, estuaries, dunes and beach, and boreal forest relicts.
Ridge and swale communities: These very complex natural communities change of very short distances from wet swales to dry dunes or pine forest. They originated under higher lake levels when our glaciers were melting. The action of wind and water created undulating deposits along the shores. When the water receeded, the high points become ridges with dune vegetation and the low points (swales) are touching the water table with wetland vegetation predominating. Every ridge and swale community is worthy of protection and managment.
Level Bedrock Communities: Nearly level exposures of dolomite occur in the northern part of Door County. These shallow-soiled bedrock areas have unusual plant communities – alkaline bedrock shore, cobble beach, alkaline meadows, and numerous rare species populations. Significant protection and recognition activities have occurred, but much is still needed.
Estuaries, Dunes and Marshes: Freshwater Estuaries and other coastal wetlands occur along Lake Michigan’s coast. Beach and dune natural communities are highly valued by recreationists.
Important Remaining Lake Superior Features Are: