Hubachek Wilderness Research Center | Ely, MN

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

Spring 2023

Winter's ice has finally melted from Mukluk Bay! Fall Lake's official ice-out this year was May 8. That's a lot later than average, but not a record. That was set on May 19, 1950.

Now, in the second week of May, it's suddenly warm, and greening up. The quaking aspens are leafing out so rapidly you can see their pale green haze intensify by the hour. The red blush of maple flowers is right behind, and the paper birches have just started blooming. Painted turtles are sunning on floating logs released from the ice. Their preferred boulders are still submerged under the high spring water. Birds that will nest to the north have moved through. More species from northeast Minnesota's migrant breeding bird population arrive daily. Spring peepers have been singing for a couple of weeks, and we heard our first gray tree frog this morning.

The B4WarmED climate research project's heating cables and lamps were powered up at the HWRC site last week. Interns are busy collecting bud-break and leaf expansion data on the research plots' young trees. This was B4WarmED's latest spring start-up since it's beginning in 2008.

The Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship project at the HWRC will start up again in early June for this summer's breeding season.

We look forward to our busiest summer yet:

  • A new project, to develop Minnesota planting guidelines for restoration of eastern hemlock, the state's only endangered tree species, will begin soon with planting of seedlings June.
  • The college of Earth and Environmental Science's Advanced Field Geology and the Forest Resources Department's Park and Protected Area Management Field Studies classes will return.
  • In early fall, we'll host a geology honors program for the first time.
  • We are also hosting more research groups working in the Superior National Forest than we ever have.

Facilities improvements are in progress, as always. Plans for a site-wide electrical system update are underway. The new well is providing a more stable water supply. Plumbing system upgrades are on the horizon. University of Minnesota IT professionals have installed the first phase of a significant internet upgrade.

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 2022 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.