Newaygo Prairies Research Natural Area

[photo:]  Newaygo Prairies Forest RNA. Photo by Lucy Tyrrell, USDA Forest Service.

White Cloud
180 Total: Finger Prairie 20 acres and West Tract Prairie 160 acres.
This RNA is comprised of three separate tracts, two areas known as the West Tract Prairie and one known as the Finger Prairie, which are remnants of the Marengo and Little Scherrar Prairies. This RNA represents undisturbed and recovering dry sand prairies and oak savannahs characterized by sparse woody vegetation such as pin oak (Quercus palustris), black oak (Quercus velutina), and eastern white pine (Pinus strobus). Two state threatened species, prairie smoke (Geum triflorum) and western silvery aster (Aster sericeus), and three state species of special concern, grooved yellow flax (Linum sulcatum), false arrow-feather (Aristida necopina), and Allegheny-plum (Prunus alleganiensis), are present within the RNA.

Ecological Information

Physical and Climatic Conditions

Nearest weather station, with distance and direction from RNA:
Weather observations, dating from 1907, are available from Croton Dam and Hardy Dam. Croton Dam is located within 4 miles (6.4 km) of all three segments of the RNA. West Tract Prairie is 3 miles (4.8 km) to the northwest, and Finger Prairie is 4 miles (6.4 km) to the southwest. Hardy Dam is located 4 miles (6.4 km) upstream of Croton Dam.
Annual precipitation (type, seasonal distribution) :
The mean annual precipitation is 32 inches (80 cm), 56% of which falls from May through October. Mean annual snowfall is 57 inches (145 cm).
Maximum and minimum temperatures:
The annual mean temperature is 45.5 ºF, and the mean January temperature is 21.7 ºF.
Finger Prairie - 804 feet (245 m); West Tract Prairie - 800 feet (244 m)
Geology and Soils:
A layer of glacial drift several hundred feet thick covers the bedrock on the prairie locations. The three RNA tracts are located exclusively on Sparta loamy sand. Adjacent forested land is growing on Plainfield sand.
Aquatic Features:
Surface water is limited to a seepage wetland.

Ecological Classification & Inventory

Northern Great Lakes (212H)
Newaygo Outwash and Ice Contact (212Hu)
SAF Cover Types (list acres): Kuchler Types (list acres):
14 Northern pin oak - 42 73 Bluestem Prairie and Oak-Hickory Forest 68
21 Eastern white pine - 65 86 Great Lakes Pine Forest - 112
Common Shrub Species:
Upland willow (Salix humulis), northern dewberry (Rubus flagellaris), pasture rose ( Rosacarolina), wild black cherry (Prunus serotina), sand cherry (Prunus pumila), and bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi).
Common Herbaceous Species:
Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparius), big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), grasses (Gramineae spp.), sedges (Carex spp.), sedge (Carex pensylvanica), western ragweed (Ambrosia psilostachya), poverty-oats (Danthonia spicata), aster (Aster azureus), Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans), thimbleweed (Anemone cylindrica), Canada bluegrass (Poa compressa), needle grass (Stipa spartea), Kentucky-bluegrass (Poa pratensis), wormwood (Artemisia campestris), Blephilia ciliata, longstalk-tickseed (Coreopsis lanceolata), prairie alum-root (Heuchera richardsonii), eastern prickly pear (Opuntia compressa), prairie phlox (Phlox pilosa), northeastern beard-tongue (Penstemon hirsutus).
Common Mammal Species:
Ground squirrel (Spermophilus tridecemlineatus), gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), prairie deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), eastern cottontail rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus).
Common Bird Species:
Eastern bluebird (Sialia sialis), red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos), American kestrel (Falco sparverius).

Related Reports and Publications

1988. Establishment Record of the Newaygo Prairies Research Natural Area within the Huron-Manistee National Forest. Unpublished report on file at the Northern Research Station, Rhinelander, 30 pages.

Haack, Robert. 1998. Using carabids to assess impacts of forest management practices. Newsletter of the Michigan Entomology Society. 43: (Number 2 & 3) page9.

Poland, Therese M.; Robert A. Haack. 1998. Reading the lines under bark. Entomology Notes No 25.

Last Modified: August 19, 2021