Drummond Island: Maxton Plains Alvar
Head north onto Maxton Road. 1.2 miles north of the GEMS site, the road will end at an east west split. This is where the Alvar begins. There is an informational sign where the road splits. From here drive or walk along the roads to view the Alvar area which extends for approximately .5-1 miles north or east and 2.5 miles west.
This is sensitive habitat so please ONLY WALK OR DRIVE ON THE ROADS.
As you enter this location you will think the dirt road has just changed to pavement, but in fact what you are driving on is exposed bedrock. This unique ecosystem with exposed bedrock and unique plant and animal species is known as an Alvar. The shallow soil and grassland like landscape attracts large numbers of Sandhill Cranes both in migration and to nest. Additional grassland species such as Upland Sandpiper, Bobolink, Brown Thrasher and Vesper Sparrow are possible here along with numerous Savannah Sparrows. Occasionally one can also stumble across a Sharp-tailed Grouse or Ruffed Grouse here.
Other Exciting Features: The alvar is a globally endangered ecosystem found in only a handful of places across the globe. Maxton Plains is one of the largest remaining alvars in the entire world. The shallow soils and exposed bedrock here create a unique environment and bring about microclimate changes that increase the average temperature. The shallow soils and harsh conditions are just right for some unique plant and insect species. Prairie Smoke is a particularly unique species enjoyed by many for its pink wispy plooms. Enjoy this unique habitat with care. The shallow soils are extremely fragile so please only walk or drive along the designated roads.
Prairie Smoke at the Alvar
Photo by: The Nature Conservancy
To learn more about the Maxton Plains Alvar, please visit The Nature Conservancy website.