Keeley Creek Research Natural Area

The RNA contains forests that typically regenerate in northeastern Minnesota after wildfire. The last major fire in the RNA is believed to have occurred about 1870. Upland forests are primarily jack pine (Pinus banksiana), with black spruce (Picea mariana) dominating the lowland peat bogs. Rock outcrops are also present. The mature forests are the RNA’s distinguishing feature.

Ecological Information

Physical and Climatic Conditions

Nearest weather station, with distance and direction from RNA:
Winton Power Plant is located 12 miles (19.2 km) north of the RNA.
Annual precipitation (type, seasonal distribution) :
Average annual precipitation is 27.5 inches (69.8 cm), with 11.4 inches (28.9 cm) falling in summer. Average annual snowfall is 43.7 inches (110.9 cm).
Maximum and minimum temperatures:
Maximum: 97 ºF, Minimum: -45 ºF
Annual: 27.4 ºF, 48.4 ºF
January: -7.4 ºF, 14.5 ºF
July: 55.7 ºF, 77.8 ºF.
Elevation ranges from 1500 to 1580 feet (490-516 m).
Geology and Soils:
The site is part of the Tower-Ely Glacial Drift and Bedrock Complex, and it contains silty or loamy over rock, well-drained, light colored soils.
Aquatic Features:
Keeley Creek flows through the northwest corner of the RNA, and a number of peat bogs are present.

Ecological Classification & Inventory

Northern Superior Uplands (212L)
Border Lakes (212La)
Plant Communities:
SAF Cover Types (list acres) Kuchler Types (list acres):
1 Jackpine (303) 84 Great Lakes Spruce-fir Forest (87)
5 Balsam fir (87) 85 Conifer Bog (208)
12 Black spruce (200) 86 Great Lakes Pine Forest (345)
16 Aspen (42)  
38 Tamarack (8)  

Complete Plant List

Common Mammal Species:
White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), snowshoe rabbit (Lepus americanus).
Common Bird Species
Ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus).

Related Reports and Publications

LeBarron, Russel K. and Clare Hendee. 1942. Establishment Record of the Keeley Creek and Lac La Croix Research Natural Areas within the Superior National Forest. Unpublished report on file at the Northern Research Station, Rhinelander, 26 pages.

Ahlgren, C.E. 1959. Vegetational development following burning in the northern coniferous forest of Minnesota. Proc., Soc. of Am For. 1959. 2 p.

Ahlgren, C.E. 1960. Some effects of fire on reproduction and growth of vegetation in northeastern Minnesota. Ecology 41: 431-445.

Last Modified: August 19, 2021