Mondeaux Hardwoods Research Natural Area

A hilltop view of Mondeaux Hardwoods RNA showing a large block of hardwood forest in the distance. (CNNF 2001) USDA Forest Service photo.

Medford – Park Falls
The Mondeaux Hardwoods Research Natural Area (RNA) is composed of two land parcels, the North parcel (307 acres; 150 ha) and the South parcel (383 acres; 155 ha).  The RNA is situated on rough terminal glacial moraine supporting an extensive mesic forest including a super-canopy of white pine (Pinus strobus).  The community mosaic is diverse with dry-mesic white pine forest, northern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis) swamp, hardwood swamp, black spruce-tamarack (Picea mariana-Larix laricina), and alder thicket (Alnus incana).  Rare plants occurring here include the state-threatened bog bluegrass (Poa paludigena).  The RNA contains habitat for northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) and red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus). 

Ecological Information

Physical and Climatic Conditions

Nearest weather station, with distance and direction from RNA:
Jump River (station no. 474080) located about 15 mi (24 km) to the east of the RNA.
Annual precipitation (type, seasonal distribution) :
Annual precipitation averages 33 inches (84 cm), 70% of which falls between April and September.   Average seasonal snowfall is 57 inches (144 cm).
Maximum and minimum temperatures:
Daily summertime temperatures average 58° F; average daily maximum temperatures average 52° F. Average temperature in the winter is 24° F; average daily minimum temperatures average 30° F.
Elevations range from 1,380 feet (421 m) to 1,550 feet (742 m) MSL.
Geology and Soils:
The bedrock of the Jump River Ground Moraine LTA is carbonates, which are between 100 feet and 50 feet (30 - 15 m) of the land surface.  Bedrock of the Perkinstown Moraines LTA includes igneous, metamorphic, and volcanic rock. 
Surface features on these LTAs are dominated by till plain with outwash terraces and hummocky moraine with plateau-like ice-walled lake plains. The ice-walled lake plain glacial features were formed as the glacier retreated.  A wall of stagnant ice trapped the outwash sediments, creating a plateau of debris that was later covered with fine loess deposits.  The soils that developed are rich in nutrients and support a diverse plant community. 
Aquatic Features:
Unique features of this RNA are the springs and spring runs. Groundwater flows to the surface forming small streams that feed marshes and conifer swamps.  These springs create a fragile wetland community that supports the globally rare and state threatened bog bluegrass.  Glacial Springs on the RNA boundary was tapped decades ago and is a source of water for recreationists in the area.  The RNA protects a portion of the source water of the Mondeaux River and Yellow River to the east.

Ecological Classification & Inventory

Laurentian Mixed Forest Province, 212X Northern Highland Section
Central-Northwest Wisconsin Loess Plains 212Xd
Perkinstown End Moraine 212Xe
Landtype Associations:
Jump River Ground Moraine Xd05
Perkinstown Moraine Xe05
Plant Communities:
Quercus prinus, Quercus velutina, Sassafras albidum, Carya spp.

Curtis Natural Communities

Kotar Habitat Types

Dominant Species initial US National Vegetation Classification

Northern mesic forest


eastern hemlock, sugar maple, yellow birch, red maple

Tsuga canadensis/Betula alleghaniensis Forest;  CEGL002598

Northern mesic forest


sugar maple, basswood, yellow birch, white ash

Acer saccharum - Betula alleghaniensis - (Tilia americana) Forest CEGL002457
Acer saccharum - Tilia americana / Ostrya virginiana / Lonicera canadensis Forest;   CEGL002458

Northern mesic forest


paper birch, red maple balsam fir (likely succeeding to sugar maple, basswood, yellow birch)

Populus tremuloides - Betula papyrifera - (Acer rubrum, Populus grandidentata) Forest; CEGL002467

Northern wet-mesic forest


black ash, northern white cedar, red maple, yellow birch

Fraxinus nigra - Mixed Hardwoods - Conifers / Cornus sericea / Carex spp. Forest; CEGL002105

Northern wet forest


tamarack, black spruce

Picea mariana - (Larix laricina) / Ledum groenlandicum / Sphagnum spp. Forest; CEGL005271

Northern hardwood swamp


black ash, red maple

Acer rubrum - Fraxinus spp. - Betula papyrifera /Cornus canadensis Forest; CEGL002071

Alder thicket


Alnus incana

Alnus incana Swamp Shrubland; CEGL002381

Northern sedge meadow


Carex stricta

Carex stricta - Carex spp. Herbaceous Vegetation; CEGL002258

ephemeral ponds


Carex spp.

not determined

Complete Plant List

Common Shrub Species:
The understory is open with few shrubs and contains small canopy gaps filled with sugar maple saplings. Shrubs present include beaked hazelnut, leatherwood, American fly-honeysuckle, and velvet-leaf blueberry.
Common Herbaceous Species:
Some eastern hemlock reproduction occurs throughout the area.  Characteristic ground flora species include toothed wood fern (Dryopteris carthusiana), wild lily-of-the-valley (Maianthemum trifolium), wild sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis), roughleaf rice grass (Oryzopsis asperifolia), and wood anemone (Anemone quinquefolia).
Common Fauna:
Mammals found are white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum), red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus), beaver (Castor canadensis),  and black bear (Ursus canadensis).
Potential Research Topics:
This RNA contains one long-term monitoring plot in the Chequamegon Breeding Bird Survey, providing a useful baseline for studies of bird population dynamics.   Flora and fauna available for detailed research include bats, goshawk and red-shouldered hawks, the globally rare bog bluegrass and its associated spring-run wetland community, plants on the edge of their ecological range, and groundwater-influenced wetland ecology.  The forested ice-walled lake plain end moraine glacial features in this area are unique because of its unmodified status.

Related link: Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Mondeaux Hardwoods

Related Reports and Publications

Brzeskiewicz, Marjory.  2014.  Establishment Record Mondeaux Hardwoods Research Natural Area.  Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Medford-Park Falls District, Taylor County, Wisconsin.   46 pp.

Curtis, J. T.  1959.  Vegetation of Wisconsin.  University of Wisconsin Press, Madison WI.

Danz, N.P.; Bracey, A.; Niemi, G.J. 2008. Breeding bird monitoring in Great Lakes National Forests 1991-2007. NRRI Technical Report NRRI/TR-2008/11, University of Minnesota, Duluth, MN.

Epstein, E.  1993.  Community Survey of Mondeaux Hardwoods /Mondeaux Esker.  Unpublished inventory report of Mondeaux Hardwoods  RNA and the connecting SMA.

Fields, Douglas M.  2003.  The Vascular Plants of Taylor County, WI. The Michigan Botanist Vol. 42 Issue 4 Available online:

Kotar, J.; Kovach, J.; Burger, T.  2002.  A Guide to Forest Communities and Habitats of Northern Wisconsin (2nd edition).  Madison: University of Wisconsin, Department of Forest Ecology and Management.

NGDC. National Geographic Data Committee. 2012. National Vegetation Classification Standard (NVCS). Available online: Accessed 2012.

Last Modified: August 19, 2021