Upper Eighteen Mile Lake Research Natural Area

[photo:] East Branch of Whitefish River. USDA Forest Service - Hiawatha NF Photo

Rapid River
Upper Eighteenmile Lake RNA provides a relatively unmodified example of a wetland ecosystem associated with northern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis) swamp, northern fen, the Whitefish River stream system, and an upland hardwood forest. The wetlands in Upper Eighteenmile Lake RNA support two rare plant species, Orchis rotundifolia (small round-leaved orchid) and Juncus stygius (moor rush).  

Ecological Information

Physical and Climatic Conditions

Nearest weather station, with distance and direction from RNA:
Chatham Experimental Farm Station (station no. 201486, latitude 46°20’N, longitude 86°55’W, elevation 265.2 feet (80.7 meters).  Link to station: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cdo-web/datasets/NORMAL_MLY/stations/GHCND:USC00201486/detail .
Annual precipitation (type, seasonal distribution) :
Annual rainfall averages 32.2 inches (818.4 cm). Annual snowfall data is not available.
Maximum and minimum temperatures:
Annual maximum temperatures average 41 °F , and minimum temperatures 5 °F. Annual daily spring/summer temperatures average 51 °F, and annual daily fall/winter temperatures average 36 °F.
Elevations range from 686 feet (209 meters) to 900 feet (274 meters) above sea level.
Geology and Soils:
The geology is characterized as a bedrock Trenton group with surficial geology of thin to discontinuous glacial till over bedrock with some peat and muck (TNC 2011). 
Soils are of the Kalkaska association, described as nearly level to very steep, well drained and moderately well drained, with sandy soils (Soil Conservation Service 1994).  The fen soils on the RNA are nearly level and very poorly drained organic soils.  The taxonomic class is sandy, mixed, frigid Entic Haplorthods.
Aquatic Features:
The RNA includes a mosaic of wetlands, stream systems, and forested swamp areas.

Ecological Classification & Inventory

212 Laurentian Forested Province, 212T Northern Green Bay Lobe
212Te Green Bay Sandy Lake Plain
Landtype Association
212Te21, Whitefish-AuTrain Lowland

National Vegetation Classification:

  Rich Conifer Swamp Northern Fen/Shrub Thicket Mesic Northern Forest
Class Forest and Grassland Shrubland and Grassland Forest and Woodland
Subclass Temperate Forest Temperate and Boreal Shrubland and Grassland Temperate Forest
Formation Temperate Flooded and Swamp Forest Temperate and Boreal Bog and Fen Cool temperate forest
Division Eastern North American Flooded and Swamp Forest North American Bog and Fen Eastern North American Cool Temperate Forest
Macrogroup Northern and Central Swamp Forest North American Boreal Bog and Fen Northern Mesic Hardwood and Conifer Forest
Group Northern Central Conifer and Hardwood Alkaline Swamp Eastern North American Boreal Alkaline Fen Northern Hardwood-Eastern Hemlock-Eastern White Pine Forest
Association Tsuga canadensis-Gaultheria hispidula/Osmunda cinnamomea/Spahgnum spp.    

View or download Complete Plant List (pdf)

MI Natural Community Types:
Based on the Michigan Natural Features Inventory natural community types, Upper Eighteenmile RNA is composed primarily of rich conifer swamp, northern shrub thicket, mesic northern forest, and northern fen.
Common Flora:
See plant list (link above).
Some Common Bird Species:
Belted kingfisher, eastern wood-pewee, alder flycatcher, red-eyed vireo, Nashville warbler, and hermit thrush.:
Potential Research Topics:
Recovery of Orchis rotundifolia; effects of climate change on fens and northern wetlands; population dynamics of rare orchids and boreal disjuncts; changes in ecological processes when transitioning from wetland to upland habitats.

Related Reports and Publications

Soil Conservation Service and USDA Forest Service. (1994). Delta County and Hiawatha National Forest of Alger and Schoolcraft Counties, Michigan. Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station: United States Department of Agriculture.

The Nature Conservancy. (2011). Internal report: land type associations within the Hiawatha National Forest. United States Forest Service.

Last Modified: August 19, 2021