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About Us

The University of Michigan Biological Station (UMBS) has been home to scientific discovery since its founding in 1909. Under the guidance of dedicated faculty experts, students engage with ecological concepts and learn how to do science in the forests, lakes, and wetlands of northern Michigan. In this cross-disciplinary, interactive community, students, faculty, and researchers from around the globe come together to learn about the natural world and seek solutions to the critical environmental challenges of our time.

History

UMBS was established on land acquired from lumber barons after virtually all the trees had been cleared. Student and faculty researchers studied the biota of a landscape ravaged by catastrophic logging and subsequent fires, allowing them to learn first-hand how land exploitation impacted the natural environment.

The station's 10,000-acre property, like most of northern Michigan, has since been reforested. But new environmental challenges have emerged – climate change and invasive species foremost among them. Fortunately, student and faculty researchers continue to roll up their scientific sleeves at UMBS, and they do so with an increasingly interdisciplinary approach. Natural historians collaborate with microbiologists, ecologists with climatologists, geologists with atmospheric scientists. These cross-disciplinary interactions – strengths of UMBS – foster a greater understanding of the natural world.

Land Acknowledgement and Burt Lake Band History

The University of Michigan Biological Station exists on lands once occupied by the Burt Lake Band of Ottawa and Chippewa people. We respectfully acknowledge the original inhabitants and the descendants of the land we now manage for purposes of preservation, research, and education. We ask our community and visitors to respect the integrity of the land that was home to indigenous people before our state and university were established by acknowledging this history. This requires that our programs of research, education, and outreach focus on the connections of all people to other living things and to our land, water, and air.

As part of our responsibility to the original inhabitants of this land and our current neighbors, we are working to raise awareness regarding the tragic and unjust burnout of the Burt Lake Village, the ancestral home of the Burt Lake Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, by the Cheboygan County sheriff and a land speculator in 1900. The University of Michigan established a committee in 2018 to investigate the burnout and make recommendations for actions that would acknowledge this history and incorporate lessons learned from this event into our education, research, and outreach missions. Although the burnout preceded the establishment of the Biological Station, we now manage a parcel of forested land known as Indian Point near the site of this tragic event. We strive to incorporate both the natural and cultural histories of this land into our Biological Station-based course content and our public outreach activities.

For more information, please review the following documents: