Abstract

The Schofield-Lost Highway site is located adjacent to U.S. Highway 12 in Eau Claire County, Wisconsin, approximately seven miles east of Altoona.  The U.S. Highway 12 corridor from Eau Claire to Fall Creek, like much of rural Eau Claire County, is a loci for suburban expansion.  Such areas are experiencing rapid conversion from rural, agricultural land-use (small dairy farms) to that of low-density single-family dwellings and other non-agricultural uses.  The purpose of this poster is to present the results of research conducted to provide soil information-based land-use recommendations to the Schofield family, who own the 55-acre study site.  Our research, limited to the northern half of the property, is intended to provide information that will allow, in the face of suburban expansion and development pressure, the Schofield's to make informed land-use decisions consistent with their demonstrable, environmentally-oriented values. 

The study site is located in the headwaters of Nine Mile Creek, a tributary to the Eau Claire River, on a north-facing bedrock-controlled slope (Mt. Simon Sandstone) and adjacent flat-lying lowlands supported by loamy and sandy alluvium over bedrock.  Vegetation on the steep upland, closed-canopy white pine forest prior to logging, is now mixed hardwoods and conifers (including some outliers of tree species more common in northern Wisconsin). 

Though variability in soil morphology is evident, steep bedrock-controlled slopes are characterized by sandy, nutrient-poor surface soils derived from underlying sandstone (and some loess), and are mapped as Boone-Plainbo Complex (BoA, 12-45% slope). 

On the adjacent lowlands, left fallow since the mid-1970s, early-successional tree species are replacing grasses, herbs, and shrubs.  In this part of the site surface soils exhibit loamy textures over sandstone bedrock with prominent weathered shale lenses, water tables within 2 meters of the surface, and are mapped as Kert Loam. 

Eight soil pits were hand-excavated in representative slope positions.  Soil profiles exposed in the pits were described, sampled, and photographed.  Soil pit locations were determined using a GPS (Global Positioning System).   A map of the study site was produced using GIS (Geographic Information System) and other computer cartographic techniques.  Samples collected in the field were analyzed for particle-size distribution (sonic sifters and hydrometer method), and organic carbon content (loss on ignition method). 

The soil profiles we described are, for the most part, consistent with those provided in the Soil Survey of Eau Claire County.  Some variation does exist, mostly in concave landscape positions in the upland where profiles exhibit cumulic tendencies, evidence of solum truncation and/or burial, and overall finer textures and more complex morphology and horizonation.   In general, we conclude that land-use options of the study site are limited.  In the area mapped as Boone-Plainbo Complex, steep slopes and highly erosion-prone surface soils combine to limit construction and agricultural uses.  Conversely, in areas mapped as Kert Loam, agricultural uses are possible but suitability for construction is limited by seasonally high water tables.  In either case, the site is suitable for woodlots and a variety of wildlife habitat restoration and/or creation uses
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