Tucker Lake Hemlocks Research Natural Area

The largest eastern hemlock trees present are approximately 350 years old. These large trees provide habitat for many organisms including this curious red squirrel. Photo by M. Brzeskiewicz 2013, USDA Forest Service.

Vilas and Price
Medford-Park Falls
The site features a very good example of old-growth eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) and yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis). Approximately 68 acres of the RNA are old-growth forest. It also includes the intact shore and wetlands surrounding an undeveloped 107-acre (43 ha) Tucker Lake. Tucker Lake supports significant waterfowl use including habitat for the protected osprey (Pandion haliaetus) and American bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus).

Ecological Information

Physical and Climatic Conditions

Nearest weather station, with distance and direction from RNA:
The nearest weather station is in Park Falls, Wisconsin (Station no. 476398), approximately 20 miles (32 km) to the west of the RNA.
Annual precipitation (type, seasonal distribution) :
The mean annual precipitation is 32 inches (81.3 cm). Average annual snowfall is 41 inches (104.6 cm).
Maximum and minimum temperatures:
The mean annual temperature is 41ºF (5ºC). The maximum summer temperature is 106 ºF (41°C). and winter minimum temperature -45ºF (-43°C).
Elevation ranges from 1,550 feet (472 m) at Tucker Lake to 1,610 feet (491 m).
Geology and Soils:
Bedrock of the Northern Highland Outwash Plains LTA includes igneous, metamorphic, and volcanic rock and the majority of the LTA has bedrock within 5 feet of the land surface. Topography is rolling. The dominant geomorphologic process was till deposition.
The majority of the soil falls into the Padus series. The Padus series consists of very deep well-drained soils, which are moderately deep to stratified sandy outwash. These soils formed mostly in loamy alluvium and are underlain by stratified sandy outwash on glacial lake plains, outwash plains, stream terraces, and moraines. Permeability is moderate or moderately rapid in the loamy mantle and rapid or very rapid in the sandy outwash. Slopes range from 0 to 45 percent
Aquatic Features:
Tucker Lake is a large, undeveloped drainage lake with medium soft, slightly alkaline, clear water.  It has a maximum depth of 32 ft (13m) with a bottom primarily of gravel and muck.  The RNA now includes approximately 0.75 miles (1.2 km) of high quality natural shoreline on Round Lake.

Ecological Classification & Inventory

Northern Highland Section (212X)
Northern Highlands Pitted Outwash (212Xb)
Land Type Association(s):
Northern Highland Outwash Plains (Xb01)
Plant Communities:

Curtis Community Type

Kotar Habitat Types

Dominant Species initial US National Vegetation Classification

Northern mesic forest

hemlock, yellow birch, sugar maple (white pine)


Tsuga canadensis - Acer saccharum - Betula alleghaniensis Forest; CEGL005044 

Northern wet-mesic forest

Eastern Hemlock, yellow birch


Tsuga canadensis - Betula alleghaniensis Saturated Forest; CEGL005003    

Northern wet-mesic forest

northern white cedar


Thuja occidentalis / Sphagnum Forest; CEGL006007 

Northern wet forest

black spruce, tamarack


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

Shrub carr

Speckled Alder


Alnus incana Swamp Shrubland; CEGL002381 

Sedge meadow

Bluejoint Grass or
Tussock Sedge dominated


Calamagrostis canadensis - Eupatorium maculatum Herbaceous Vegetation; CEGL005174  or
Carex stricta - Carex spp. Herbaceous Vegetation; CEGL002258

Spring, spring run

Not documented


Not documented

Lake (Tucker and Round)

white water lily, bullhead lily - emergent
pondweed, coontail -submergent


Nymphaea odorata - Nuphar (microphylla, variegata) Herbaceous Vegetation; CEGL002562  and
Potamogeton spp. - Ceratophyllum spp. - Elodea spp. Permanently Flooded Herbaceous Vegetation; CEGL004725

Complete Plant List

Common Shrub Species:
Mountain maple (Acer spicatum), beaked hazelnut (Corylus cornuta), American fly honeysuckle (Lonicera canadensis), red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa), Canada yew (Taxus canadensis).
Common Herbaceous Species:
Shining clubmoss (Huperzia lucidula), mountain wood sorrel (Oxalis montana), dwarf enchanter's nightshade (Circaea alpina), fancy wood fern (Dryopteris intermedia).
Common Fauna:
Red squirrel (Tamiascirus hudsonicus), eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus), beaver (Castor canadensis), North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum), muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus), northern river otter (Lontra canadensis), and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus).
Common Bird Species:
Blackburnian warbler (Dendroica fusca), black-throated green warbler (Dendroica virens), red-eyed vireo (Vireo olivaceous), ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus), brown tree creeper (Certhia americana), American bald eagle (Haliaetus leucocephalus), ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus), American woodcock (Philohela minor), and spotted sandpipers (Actitis macularia).
Potential Research Topics:
Potential research topics include succession studies from older, seral-stage aspen and birch forest succeeding to hemlock/hardwood forest compared to recently managed communities on the same landform; or beaver populations following the return of the timber wolf.  Species on the edge of their range are found in this RNA.  Studies of these species with respect to climate change could be valuable.  A thorough inventory of small mammals, forest bats, birds, vegetation, lichens and invertebrates is needed.

Related link: Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Tucker Lake Hemlocks

Related Reports and Publications

Bergeson, Mitchell T. 2001. Red-backed salamanders (Plethodon cinereus) in hardwood forests in northeastern Wisconsin and the upper peninsula of Michigan. A master of science (wildlife ecology) thesis, University of Wisconsin-Madison. 73 pp.

Brzeskiewicz, Marjory.  2014.  Updated Establishment Record for Tucker Lake Hemlocks Research Natural Area.  Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Medford-Park Falls Ranger District, Price and Vilas Counties, Wisconsin.    46 pp.

Clark, John D.  2010.  Soil organic carbon content and quality in post-agricultural northern hardwood forests.  phD Dissertation.  Publicly accessible Penn Dissertations.  Paper 257. 

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

Epstein, E.  1986.  Draft Establishment Record for the Tucker Lake Hemlocks Research Natural Area within the Chequamegon National Forest, Price County Wisconsin.

Herman, Ron. 1988. Establishment Record for Tucker Lake Helmocks Research Natural Area within the Chequamegon National Forest, Price County, Wisconsin. 30 p.

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.

Krause, J.  1998.  Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest Natural Area Inventory: Tucker Lake Hemlocks.  Unpublished reports on file in Park Falls Headquarters.

NGDC.  National Geographic Data Committee. 2012. National Vegetation Classification Standard (NVCS). Available online: http://usnvc.org/explore-classification/  Accessed 2012.

Tyrrell, L.E. 1991. Patterns of coarse wood debirs in old-growth hemlock-hardwood forests of northern Wisconsin and western Upper Michigan. PhD Dissertation. University of Wisonsin, Madison, WI.

Tyrrell, Lucy E.; T. R. Crow. 1993. Analysis of structural characteristics of old-growth hemlock-hardwood forests along a temporal gradient. in John T. Curtis: Fifty years of Wisconsin plant ecology. James S. Fralish, Robert P. McIntosh, and Orie L. Loucks, editors. Wisconsin Academy of sciences, Arts, and Letters, Madison, Wisconsin. pp. 237-246.

Tyrrell, L.E.; Crow, T.R. 1994. Structural characteristics of old-growth hemlock-hardwood forests in relation to age. Ecology 75: 370-386.

Tyrrell, L.E.; Crow, T.R. 1994. Dynamics of dead wood in old-growth hemlock-hardwood forests of northern Wisconsin and northern Michigan. Can. J. For. Res. 24: 1672-1683.

Last Modified: August 20, 2021