Development of Maumee Soil and Soil Horizons

fortyonenorth(6b)April 4, 2012

Here's one for Garg or any soil experts out there. What are the development conditions for Maumee soils? Are they typical of an area that was once forested or an area that was prairie?

Also (bonus question) - can one soil type be transformed by the actions of earthworms over the course of say 50-100 years to "look" like another soil type? For example, if a soil has a relatively shallow A-horizon followed by an E-horizon, can earthworms obliterate that profile and make it look like a deep A-horizon with no E-horizon?

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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

Are you referring to Maumee Ohio? I don't know, but here is for Minnesota. Earthworms are not native to Minnesota and they wipe out the forest.

Here is a link that might be useful: earthworm damage

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 9:17AM
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No, I'm referring to a specific soil classification. Yes, I'm aware of the fact that earthworms are non-native and pretty awful beasts from an ecological point of view.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 10:41AM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana


I think you know the answer. These soils are influenced by lake sand and were a blending of forest and prairie...poorly drained by flat topography.

My daughter used to live in Brookston, In. right where the prairie began. I marveled at the instant change when approaching from the south or east.

Here is a link that might be useful: Maumee Soil

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 12:15PM
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I wasn't going to get into details, but you may find this situation interesting.

Our town is situated within the boundaries of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, which was established in the mid-1960s. We are adjacent to a naturally and historically significant wetland that was documented by Henry Chandler Cowles during the early years of the 1900s. Cowles is considered the founder of the modern ecology movement and first described the forces that influenced ecological succession in plant communities.

In any event, the National Park Service (NPS) has been working to restore Cowles Bog by removing cattails and other invasive species. This is all good. However, there is a strip of woodland along one edge of the bog that they would like to clear-cut in order to create a wet mesic prairie. This would entail removing more than 3000 trees and altering the current hydrology. The NPS argues that this area (roughly 25 acres) was once a wet mesic prairie and they are saying the soil samples prove that it is not native woodland. Their environmental assessment points to the deep A-horizon with no E-horizon as evidence that this was once a prairie. There is no firm historical evidence that this was ever a prairie and that given time and circumstances (this area was used for agriculture somewhere between 1890 and 1910) that it's impossible to determine using a modern soil sample.

In most cases, I'm 100% in favor of this type of remediation. But, in this case, the woodland provides a visual and sonic buffer between the idyllic bog and industrial encroachment. If they remove the trees, the bog will be opened to an adjacent railroad switching yard, high-tension power distribution poles, and a state highway that serves as a popular thoroughfare for the semi-trucks servicing the local steel mills. I think this is a case of some botanist getting all excited about this opportunity and throwing good sense to the wind. Again, I'm all in favor of restoring nature, but not if that means having to appreciate it side-by-side with the Norfolk Southern.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 12:36PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

From what you describe I agree with you. Just because they[Park Service] can tweak things some more isn't necessarily for the best. I suppose it would be a talking point to have an extra "restored" section.
Boggy areas [and there are likely thousands of them around the bottom end of Lake Michigan] would not have the soil horizon 0f a forest, so they must assume it was prairie? Hah.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 6:28PM
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I guess I am not an environmentalist because I don't really get the point of this kind of thing. If a healthy stand of trees are growing, and there are no adverse affects on wildlife, and no fire threat, why remove them?

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 4:40PM
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Well, this is a project even an devout environmentalist could hate. Boondoggle - that's what it is. I had to look that word up, but it fits perfectly.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 9:00PM
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I cannot help you with the soil question. However my obsession with pre settlement vegetation maps
rivals my obsession with composting. These are not difficult to find and will provide a definative answer as to what was growing in a particular location prior to the arrival of European settlers.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 1:08AM
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Prarie, what evidence are such maps based on? Written records based on first-hand exploration accounts? Soil evidence as per the OP?

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 7:07AM
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Prairie - can you point me to any sources that might pertain to my area - Porter County, Indiana?

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 11:16AM
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Tropical - Just found this:

"It has become standard practice to give each soil the name of a town, school, church, stream or other geographical feature located near the area where the soil is first identified."

So, yes, I expect there might be some connection between the Maumees.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 11:23AM
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toxcrusadr(Zone 6a - MO)

I don't know a darn thing about bogs, other than the fact that wetlands are something like 2% of what they used to be in the US. If this Cowles Bog project is an attempt to restore vanishing wetlands, in that sense it may be more than some NPS ecologist's pet project. But it does seem like they could leave at least a few yards of a tree belt as a buffer.

This is the first I've heard that earthworms are not native to parts of the Midwest - ??

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 12:45PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

I've read that the usual earthworms and honeybees were brought over here from Europe.

The area around the southern part of Lake Michigan is often sandy with the native vegetation marsh and bluestem grasses, reeds, and occasional oak and elm trees. So it is both prarie and bog.

Some wetlands in the Kankakee sands have been restored by The Nature Conservancy. That area in Northwest Indiana and Northeast Illinois is very level and very wet until drained.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 1:15PM
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Cowles Bog is the last remaining remnant of the Great Marsh, Lake Michigan�s largest interdunal wetland. It is roughly 205 acres in extent - most of it wetlands that are in the process of being restored. The area that I'm arguing against is a 25 acre wooded parcel which, while is technically part of the "wetland complex," is separate.

One of the issue facing the entire complex was that beginning long ago ditches were created to drain the wetland. Most of the damage occurred in the 1960s with the building of a steel mill and power plant. No one cared much about wetlands back then. Beginning in the 1850s, Indiana drained something like 87% of it's wetlands - second only to Illinois and Ohio. Now we have to live with that legacy - the mills, the power plant, the rail yard, the highway - all this is visually screened and sonically buffered by the forest. Cowles Bog is a beautiful place. We had thousands and thousands of Sand Hill Cranes fly over this spring. For the first time in recent memory, some of them stopped to roost in the bog. I'll do whatever I can do aid in its recovery, but I fear that removing all these trees--however imperfect they may be from an ecological standpoint--will jeopardize the entire complex. I think this is a case where environmentalism has to yield to good and common sense.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 3:02PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

I once watched the Sand Hill Cranes in the fall. They have a favorite stop over at Jasper-Pulaski Reserve. It was really neat watching about 10,000 of the birds in their over-night "roost". Starting in the afternoon families of 5 to a dozen will fly in for the night. the leader will honk and let down his landing gear and make a run out after neat.

The Preserve has a lake with mown grass and a grandstand with mounted binoculars and parking. This is in the fall when they are stopping and feeding for several days on the corn fields all around.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 4:57PM
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I do not see on line data for the pre settlement vegetation of Indiana. My state, Michigan, has this data in a color coded form available on line.

The data was converted from long hand notes made by the surveyers who marked out the one mile apart section corners in the 1800s. I see references to such data for the states around Indiana, but not for your state. I would ask at the State Park, your DNR, and your soil conservation district. They are a joy to use as finding a remnant of what was here for so long is a priviledge.

I wish you the best of luck.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 10:34PM
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