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The Dry Mixedgrass Subregion

Blue grama grassThe Dry Mixedgrass Subregion is the warmest and driest in Alberta.  The name "Mixedgrass" comes from the predominance of both short and mid-height grasses.  The most widespread are the mid-grasses such as spear grass, western wheat grass and the short-grasses such as blue grama.

Of the four grassland subregions, the Mixedgrass Subregion also contains the highest diversity of animal species.  Many of the species in this region occur nowhere else in the province, particularly those of sand dune areas and the extreme southeast part of Alberta.  A few species are absent from the rest of Canada or occur in only local areas.  

The topography of the Dry Mixedgrass Subregion is generally subdued with only a few minor uplands. The predominant landform is a low-relief ground moraine but there are significant areas of hummocky moraine, glaciofluvial outwash, glaciolacustrine sand plains, fine-textured glaciolacustrine lake deposits, and eroded plains. Elevations range from 600 metres near Empress to more than 1300 metres on the lower slopes of the Cypress Hills,South Saskatchewan River Sweetgrass Hills and Milk River Ridge. Although permanent streams are relatively rare, the ones that do exist are well defined. The Subregion is drained by several major rivers that have carved deeply into the bedrock in some places. This has exposed Cretaceous shales and sandstones, creating extensive badlands in some areas. Drainage is to the Missouri River system via the Milk River and to the Saskatchewan River system via all of the other rivers in the subregion. 

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