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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Division of Ecological Services
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Fort Snelling, MN 55118
Phone: (612) 713-5467
E-Mail: Tom_Magnuson@fws.gov

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Great Lakes/Big Rivers Ecosystems | Wetland | Savanna | Tallgrass Prairie | Forest | Karst

Great Lakes - Big Rivers Ecosystems

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Great Lakes-Big Rivers Region (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin)(Region) covers over 286 million acres of land and over 8 million acres of water (excluding the Great Lakes). The Region is home to more than 57 million people that occupy over 4 million acres of residential land. This link opens in a new windowClick to view a map of 1992 Landcover Data (97 KB)

The Region is dominated by more than 113 million acres of cropland (primarily corn and soybeans), 54 million acres of pasture and hay land, 4 million acres of grassland, and more than 78 million acres of forest. The table below contains a more detailed description of Region 3 land use and land cover, as well as specific acreages and their percent of total.

Land Cover Description Acreage Percent
Open Water (excluding the Great Lakes) 8,344,885 2.8%
Low Intensity Residential 3,601,739 1.2%
High Intensity Residential 1,549,601 0.5%
Commercial/Industrial/Transportation 2,659,308 0.9%
Bare Rock/Sand/Clay 58,437 0.0%
Quarries/Strip Mines 311,348 0.1%
Transitional 525,817 0.2%
Deciduous Forest 63,153,735 21.4%
Evergreen Forest 7,500,569 2.5%
Mixed Forest 7,787,524 2.6%
Shrubland 359,873 0.1%
Orchard/Vineyard 2,263 0.0%
Grassland 4,364,443 1.5%
Pasture/Hay 54,968,093 18.7%
Row Crops 110,898,541 37.7%
Small Grains 2,545,284 0.9%
Urban/Recreational Grasses 1,422,913 0.5%
Woody Wetlands 18,851,479 6.4%
Emergent Herbaceous Wetlands 5,603,579 1.9%
TOTAL REGION 3 ACREAGE 294,509,431 100.0%

The Region contains all or portions of several large river basins, including the Upper Mississippi River, Missouri River, Ohio River, and Minnesota River. The Upper Mississippi River Basin covers 120 million acres, or 41 percent of the Region. The Great Lakes Basin, which is the largest fresh water system in the world, comprises 184 million acres and contains over 5,000 tributary streams and 9,000 miles of shoreline.

Within the Region there are several major classes of ecosystems that are critically important to fish and wildlife resources. These include wetlands, savannas, prairies, forests, and karst ecosystems.

Last updated: September 24, 2012