Land Cover Types

Upland & Deciduous Forests
Oak Forest - Mesic Subtype
Mesic oak forests in Scott County are dominated by red oak, white oak, and bur oak. These stands occur on sites that had fewer severe fires before European settlement than the sites on which dry mixed oak forest occurs. These stands most likely were always forest, rather than woodland or savanna.

They have tall (less than 20 meters), trees that lack lower spreading branches. Commonly, basswood, green ash, bitternut hickory, big-toothed aspen, and butternut are present in the understory. The mesic type oak forests can be found in Scott County in Murphy Hanrehan Park, which is the largest community of oak forest in the county, and in the bluffs of Blakely township. The shrub layer in mesic stands is sparser than in dry stands of oak forest.

Maple-Basswood Forest
Maple-Basswood Forests, often referred to as “Big Woods” by early Minnesotans, are dominated by dense, continuous canopies of basswoods, sugar maples, and American elms. Maple-Basswood Forest occurs only on protected sites, where catastrophic forest crown fires were rare historically. Remnants of Maple-Basswood Forest are scattered throughout Scott County and can be found in the Blakely bluffs, Belle Plaine, Sand Creek, and Helena townships, as well as, Spring Lake Regional Park, and the Savage Fen Scientific and Natural Area. The largest tract of Maple-Basswood Forest in Scott County can be found in Louisville township.

Deciduous Woodland
Oak Woodland - Brushland
Oak woodland-brushland are dry woodlands on well-drained, dry to mesic soils formed on glacial till or glacial river outwash, often on south- to west-facing slopes. The canopy is dominated by northern pin oak, bur oak, and/or white oak, with some paper birch, eastern red cedar, quaking aspen, basswood, and big-toothed aspen. The shrub layer is often found dense and dominated by American hazel, chokecherry, prickly ash, smooth sumac, and gray dogwood. These types of woodlands can be found in Cleary Lake Regional Park, Louisville Swamp area, and Street Lawrence township in Scott County.

Deciduous Savanna
Dry Oak Savanna - Barrens Subtype
These occur on excessively drained soils on wind-blown sand dunes on terraces along the Minnesota River. Typically contain an open canopy composed of bur oak and northern pin oak. Leadplant, prairie willow, and prairie rose are common shrubs. The largest tract of this type can be found just northwest of Deans Lake in Shakopee.

Forested Wetlands - Floodplain Forest
Floodplain Forest - Silver Maple Subtype
These lowland forests are scattered all along the Minnesota River river bottom in seasonally flooded alluvial soils. Their canopies often consist of a tall, open supercanopy of cottonwood above a continuous canopy of silver maple. Other trees that can be found within the canopy include basswood, American elm, green ash, and peach-leaved willow. Shrubs are sparse or absent.

Hardwood Swamp Forest
Mixed Hardwood Swamp
These lowland forests occur on saturated mineral or shallow organic soil in shallow basins on glacial till or outwash. The only area in Scott County can be found in the southern portion of Louisville Swamp. Their canopies are dominated by black ash with a mix of other lowland hardwood species including green ash, red maple, quaking aspen, and elms. Their shrub layer is variable commonly including red osier dogwood, pussy willow, and wild black currant.

Open Wetlands - Emergent Marsh
Cattail Marsh
Found surrounding Sutton Lake in Sand Creek township and a few areas in Street Lawrence township, cattail marshes are just that - open flooded wetlands dominated by cattails.

Mixed Emergent Marsh
Found scattered throughout the north Scott County floodplain areas along the Minnesota River, Deans Lake, and the Louisville Swamp area. These are open, flooded wetlands often dominated by river bulrush, cattails, lake sedge, wild rice, bur reed, bluejoint grass, and rice cut grass. Other common plants are broad-leaved arrowhead, water plantain, sweetflag, water parsnip, wild mint, and American water-horehound.

Wet Meadow & Fen
Wet Meadow
Open wetlands on wet, seasonally flooded soil in shallow basins or along margins of marshes within large river valleys. A great example is the large area of wet meadow in the Savage Fen SNA which is the largest area of wet meadow in Scott County. Groundwater seepage is present in some cases in these systems as is the case with the Savage Fen.

Dominant plants include lake sedge, tussock sedge, and bluejoint grass. Common plants found include, bur reed, cattails, hardstem bulrush, and aquatic sedge. Clumps of shrubs are common and typically include red-osier dogwood, slender willow, and pussy willow.

  • “Minnesota’s Native Vegetation: A Key to Natural Communities” Version 1.5, MDNR
  • “Natural Communities and Rare Species of Carver, Hennepin, and Scott Counties, Minnesota, by the Minnesota County Biological Survey