Natural Features of Rose Township

Geological Features of Rose Township

Rose Township is located within the Jackson Interlobate, where glaciers made direct edge-to-edge contact creating large amounts of glacial deposits leading to high, hilly, and rolling topography. Elevation ranges from creek bottoms at 900 - 950 feet above sea level to high points of 1,150 feet. Also found in these interlobate areas are kettle depressions and kettle lakes. Kettle depressions (without water) and kettle lakes (with water) are formed after large blocks of ice which had been buried beneath glacial debris melt and leave large depressions.

Late Wisconsin End Moraines and Lake Plains (Used with permission) (source)

The southeast Michigan interlobate region extends from Lapeer County, through the "lakes region" of Oakland and Washtenaw Counties and exits the state in Hillsdale County. Oakland County is approximately outlined in blue on the map below.

Oakland County (Source, used with permission)

Map of southeast Michigan showing the lakes in the interlobate region outlined in blue. Most of the lakes in southeast Michigan are kettle lakes.

Watersheds in Rose Township

A watershed, a term often used interchangeably with a drainage basin, is the area of land where all of the water (streams, rivers, rainfall) drains off to a common body of water. A majority of Rose Township is within the Shiawassee River Watershed. A small tip of the southeast corner of the township is within the Huron River Watershed. This means most of the township’s rainfall and streams flow toward the Shiawassee River. Rain water and streams in the small part of the southeast corner of the township flow toward the Huron River. Rose Township is home to some of the headwaters (origin or beginning of its source) of the Shiawassee River.

Shiawassee River Watershed

Saginaw Bay Watershed (source)

The Shiawassee watershed has a shape like an hourglass being narrow in the center and wider at the top and at the bottom. A majority of the small streams within the township are tributaries of the Shiawassee River and flow in a generally northerly and westerly direction to the Tittabawassee River, creating the Saginaw River, and then draining into the Saginaw Bay of Lake Huron. A small portion of the southwest corner of the township is in the Huron River Watershed which means rainfall and streams in this area flow toward the Huron River which eventually flows into Lake Erie.

Shiawassee River Watershed (source)

Watersheds are more than the flow of water. A functioning watershed supports habitat for plants and animals and provides sources for drinking water. Wetlands found within a watershed help to clean and filter water (improving water quality), recharge groundwater, and reduce flooding by holding and storing excess water. No matter how far from a body of water, activities that happen anywhere on the land within a watershed can impact water quality “downstream”.

Early Native Habitats in Rose Township

The early surveyors trekked across Rose Township, Oakland County and the Michigan Territory all the while making notes as to the types of habitats and species they encountered in each section. Trees were listed in order of prevalence. They made notes as to the locations of lakes, ponds, streams, and wetlands. The surveyors made comments as to the quality of the soil and its potential for agriculture. They noted trails, roads and settlements if there were any.

The scientists (ecologists, botanists, zoologists) of the Michigan State University Extension - Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI) used the field notes and any plant lists from these early surveyors along with their own collective knowledge of natural communities to recreate what was most likely the distribution of the native Michigan vegetation in the early 1800s. The map they created is presented below.

MNFI Map of Rose Township showing Distribution of Native Habitats found in the Early 1800s (source, , accessed 2/4/21)

After the retreat of the glaciers, uplands in Rose Township became forested by oak communities including one now rare type of oak community called oak barrens. The major natural communities that once dominated the landscape in Rose Township were oak-hickory forests (pink), oak barrens (tan), and several types of wetlands (purple, green, brown, light blue) and a number of lakes (turquoise blue). These habitats are briefly described and pictured below.

Brief Description of Native Habitats found in the Early 1800s

Oak-Hickory Forests (pink) are dominated by black and white oaks along with hickory species (shagbark & pignut), black cherry, sassafras and other species such as elm, maple, and beech. Oak-hickory forests can tolerate a wide range of site conditions.

Oak Hickory Forest (source)

Oak Barrens (tan) are a fire-dependent natural community dominated by sparsely populated black and white oaks with a prairie grassland as a ground layer. Oak barrens are found on sandy soils on slightly undulating glacial outwash.

Oak Barrens (source)

Wet prairies (purple) are a native lowland grasslands found on flatter saturated land and/or in seasonally inundated floodplain areas.

Wet Pairie (source)

Swamps (green, brown, light blue) are a wetland found in low-lying areas where water from uplands drains and collects. They are dominated by woody vegetation (conifers, hardwoods, and/or shrubs).

Hardwood Swamp (source)

Marshes are typically shallow and are found along the shores of lakes, rivers, and streams.

Marsh (source)






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