U of M to turn Ely-area facility into research center

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The University of Minnesota plans on using 350 acres near Ely as a place to teach students and research climate change's effects on northern forests, The Associated Press reports.

The land, which once belonged to a wealthy Chicago lawyer Frank B. Hubachek Sr., is now under the ownership and operation of the U of M. On the stretch of land is the Hubachek Wilderness Research Center, which sits on Fall Lake – a popular entry point into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

Hubachek established the center on the land in 1948. The blog Northern Wilds said research into climate change in the area dates back as far as 50 years, when husband-and-wife team of Clifford and Isabel Ahlgren headed up a study.

Linda Nagel, the director of operations at the U of M's Cloquet Forestry Center, tells the AP that the university plans on building up the facility slowly but surely. Currently, the center is in need of a new septic system and its cabins aren't insulated, which makes it useable only three seasons a year.

"It's a wonderful place for people to come and study and reflect and experience the wilderness," Nagel told the AP.

Nagel says the U of M is examining options for the center and are mulling additional facilities, but it appears the surroundings will remain intimate.

"We're not going to put a 100-person auditorium on it. It'd be a classroom for 20 people," Nagel told the AP.

Northern Wilds said while the center's land adjoins the BWCA, it is not part of it – a distinction that allows researchers to conduct field climate warming experiments.

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