Why Is This Preserve Significant?
The 1,210-acre Maxton Plains Preserve protects the globally significant alvar landscape and 10 Michigan state rare plants, eight found in the alvars and two found in the forests. The alvars found on Drummond Island are the largest remaining high quality alvars in North America. The Maxton Plains Preserve protects nesting and feeding habitat for the state-threatened osprey and potentially for grassland, forest, and shore birds.
Alvar is a Swedish term used to describe dry grasslands found on limestone pavements. The last glacier receded over 10,000 years ago, leaving no, or only a very thin (up to 10 inches), soil layer over limestone bedrock. Areas of pavement alvar are found in central Maxton. On the pavement alvars, the plants grow only in the bedrock joints where soil and sediment collect.
What Can I See Here?
This habitat contains an extremely rich diversity of flora and fauna and hosts a unique mixture of arctic tundra and Great Plains prairie plant species. Eight Michigan state rare plants grow in the alvars. Among these are the prairie smoke, a spring bloomer, and Houghton’s goldenrod, which bloom just as the prairie grasses turn gold in the late summer sun. Little bluestem grass and prairie dropseed grass also thrive in the sparse soil. This site attracts an array of birds, including such rare and threatened species as the upland sandpiper, osprey, northern harrier, sharp-tailed grouse and as many as 160 other species of birds.