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By Daniel S. Wovcha

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Additional resources for Minnesota's St. Croix River Valley and the Anoka Sandplain: A Guide to Native Habitats

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They change over time in response to climate, geologic processes, the growth of plants, and the activities of human beings and other animals. The landscape of the St. Croix River Valley—Anoka Sandplain Region has been covered by molten rock, inundated by seas, and buried beneath glacial ice lobes perhaps thousands of feet thick. In between these tremendous events, the land was weathered and eroded, soils have built up, and communities of plants and animals have developed. In general, change has been slow, occurring over hundreds, thousands, and even millions of years.

On a few farms, prairies were mowed regularly for hay rather than being cultivated or grazed. Mowing may actually have helped to preserve some of these prairies, by retarding invasion by trees and shrubs. S. Bureau of the Census 1860—1987), some clearing of the remaining tracts of native vegetation for agriculture still occurs, and few of the earlier cultivated lands have reverted to vegetation resembling the native vegetation. Most of the remaining tracts of uncleared or undisturbed native vegetation are in wetlands, on steep, rocky lands (such as ravines or river bluffs), or on hilly, arid lands (such as sand dunes) because these sites are not easily cultivated and are relatively unattractive to grazing animals.

Logging undoubtedly changed the composition of the soils, the rates of erosion, the fire regime, and the amount of sunlight reaching the ground, and these changes certainly caused corresponding changes in the vegetation. Influence of European-Americans [317 Agriculture Euro-American farming began in Minnesota in 1839, with the establishment of the Joseph Haskell farm in Afton Township in Washington County (Harvey 1980). Although farming began at about the same time as logging, it was secondary to logging as Minnesota's leading industry until the depletion of the white pine forests in the early 20th century.

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