Hubachek Wilderness Research Center | Ely, MN

December thaw and freeze on Fall Lake
field researcher in a forest
Small mammal trapping class learning methods

Early January 2024

It seems that winter has arrived, finally. In December, the lake ice formed, melted, formed and melted. No snow stuck until New Year’s Eve. After a warm start to the year, high temperatures will be below zero soon. It's looking like a quiet winter at Hubachek Wilderness Research Center - a nice lull for catching up after a busy spring-summer-fall in which we hosted:

Graduate students and their field crews

  • Iowa State University researchers studying pine adaptations to climate change in the Superior National Forest
  • A University of Minnesota (UMN) Aukema Entomology Lab group as they sought specific instars of spruce budworm larvae.
  • The UMN’s Silva Lab as they continue surveys of vegetation response to the 2021 Greenwood Fire.
  • The UMN Eastern Hemlock Project’s on-site planting, monitoring and plot maintenance crew as they develop planting guidelines for Minnesota’s only endangered tree species.
  • The 2023 Voyageur Wolf Project group
  • A UMN grad student examining the genetic diversity of blackberry species in the wild for conservation and potential breeding improvements for local cultivation.
  • A UMN geology working group, tackling creation of an educational trail in Lake Vermilion / Soudan Underground Mine state park as part of a PhD. project.

Two University of Minnesota classes

  • The UMN College of Earth and Environmental Sciences’ Advanced Field Geology course stretched our capacity in July-August with a group of 24 here for two weeks. We heard that some of the students detached from their devices while here, enhancing their experience.
  • The Forest Resources Department's Park and Protected Area Management Field Studies class was here in late August after an exploration of Lake Superior's North Shore.

One workshop

  • Minnesota Women's Woodland Network Chainsaw Safety Workshop

And one student club

  • The UMN Forestry Club


The B4WarmED climate research project continued its work here and at Cloquet Forestry Center. This June they held their first mini symposium at Hubachek with UMN and University of Michigan scientists from the USA, Poland, Spain, South Africa and China. Soon, the heaters will be turned off and the project will be put to bed for the winter.

The Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship project at the HWRC had an interesting banding season, with (anecdotally) fewer warbler and chickadee captures in general, and a notable drop in American redstart presence. Thrushes and ovenbirds seemed to be around in their usual abundance.

Facilities improvements are in progress, as always. HWRC is getting ever closer to the first phase of water system improvements since the new well was drilled in 2022. A site-wide electrical system update is also in the foreseeable future. University of Minnesota IT professionals installed the first phase of a significant internet upgrade in 2022 and plan to return next spring for phase two. The Lodge kitchen will get a new floor this winter.

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.