Hubachek Wilderness Research Center | Ely, MN

Last bit of ice in Mukluk Bay
field researcher in a forest
Small mammal trapping class learning methods

Mid-April 2024

After a weirdly warm and dry winter, spring is here. Our minds are on phenology. Two weeks ago, the lake surface was thin, snow-covered shore-to-shore ice. Within a week, it had melted away. The air is cool. The sun is warm. After some welcome rains, snow is predicted for tonight. 

A hearty “welcome back” goes out to the goldeneyes, hooded mergansers, loons, song sparrows, kingfishers, winter wrens, purple finches and phoebes. The woodchucks are emerging. The warblers are just starting to arrive. The swans and Canada geese have been around for a while. Our winter stalwarts are defending territories and starting new broods. Ravens are already raising hatchlings behind the Lodge and the mallard hen is back, laying eggs in her nest in the B4WarmED climate change project.

Our first human group of the spring, the University of Minnesota Geological Society (AKA GeoClub) took a chance with our seasonal opening uncertainty and had a great time last weekend visiting Hubachek Wilderness Research Center and the newly refurbished and reopened Soudan Underground Mine.

This spring and summer we look forward to welcoming…

A variety of research project groups from the University of Minnesota and elsewhere

  • An Aukema Entomology Lab project studying the ecological role and forest regeneration impacts of eastern spruce budworm.
  • The Silva Lab as they continue surveys of vegetation response to the 2021 Greenwood Fire.
  • The Eastern Hemlock Project’s on-site planting, monitoring and plot maintenance crew as they develop planting guidelines for Minnesota’s only endangered tree species.
  • An examination of the genetic diversity of blackberry species in the wild for conservation and potential breeding improvements for local cultivation.
  • A study of the genetic identity and ecology of non-native honeysuckles in Minnesota and their relationship to the success of a crop pest, spotted wing drosophila (fruit fly), to inform management of these invasive species.
  • A forest biometrics project, to develop ground-tested statistical modeling to facilitate carbon stock estimation, validate forest productivity and wildlife habitat, and aid landowners seeking to enter carbon markets.
  • A geology PhD project creating an educational trail in Lake Vermilion - Soudan Underground Mine State Park.
  • The long-term, on-site B4WarmED climate research project which has already started up again for the growing season.
  • The Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship, a cooperation between the Institute of Bird Populations, the Superior National Forest and HWRC which will be banding and collecting data June – July. They will also be collecting feathers to assist with an isotopic migration mapping project.

Two University of Minnesota classes 

  • The College of Earth and Environmental Sciences’ Advanced Field Geology course
  • The Forest Resources Department's Park and Protected Area Management Field Studies class


  • The University Honors Program geology cohort

Facilities improvements are in progress, as always. The Lodge kitchen has a beautiful new floor. Major water system improvements are on the horizon as are additional internet access points on campus.

Check out the article, People, Fire, and Pines: How Fire Use by the Anishinaabeg Shaped the Boundary Waters by Clare Boerigter.

Learn more about activities at the Hubachek Wilderness Research Center and its big-sister research station, the Cloquet Forestry Center, in our View From the Woods 2023 newsletter.


Even modest warming could cause major changes for forests in the Great Lakes region and southern Canada

August 10, 2022

Even relatively modest climate change could dramatically alter Minnesota’s Northwoods and the southern boreal forest that runs from eastern Canada to Alaska, according to a rare long-term experiment by a team of researchers led by U of M professor Peter Reich.

Legacy Q&A with Andy David

April 10, 2024

Join us in congratulating Andy David, current Director of Operations for the Cloquet Forestry Center and Hubachek Wilderness Research Center, on his upcoming retirement. Read more to find out what Andy is looking forward to in his retirement, and the things he will miss most from his time with the U of M.