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Symposium and Tour Mark 50 Years of Wetland Ecosystem Research

Grand Rapids, MN, June 15, 2009 - A three day symposium will be held June 23-25, 2009, bringing local, regional and international researchers together to mark the 50th anniversary of the Marcell Experimental Forest (MEF) and to discuss past and current research. The symposium will review five decades of ecosystem and watershed research on peatlands, hydrology, biogeochemical cycles, and forest management. 

The USDA Forest Service Marcell Experimental Forest is a 2,800-acre tract of land located 25 miles north of Grand Rapids, Minnesota. The MEF has been reserved for long-term research with the cooperation of the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, the Chippewa National Forest, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Itasca County, and a private landowner. It is operated by the U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station. 

The MEF contains six experimental watersheds, each consisting of an upland portion and a peatland that is the source of a stream leaving the watershed. This unique wetlands ecosystem features a wide range of hydrological environments to study. Fifty years of research in the Marcell has resulted in a large historical database that is a valuable resource to the science community. Climatic and hydrologic data have been collected at monitoring stations in the Marcell continuously since 1960. 

Current research includes:

  • Effects of timber harvest and management on water yield and quality.
  • Guidelines for protecting wetlands while managing for timber.
  • Maintenance of long-term records on climate and hydrology
  • Peatlands interactions with the atmosphere, including their effect on global climate change.
  • Plant production, decay, and nutrient cycling in peatland and upland ecosystems.
  • The influence that peatlands have on mercury speciation and transport.
  • Chemistry of rain and snow, studied as part of the National Atmospheric Deposition Program (one of 200+ sites in the U.S.) and Mercury Deposition Network (one of 85+ sites).
  • Long-term Soil Productivity (one of many sites in a national study).

The public is invited to a tour of the Marcell Experimental Forest on Wednesday, June 24 at 9:15 am. Contact Steve Sebestyen for directions and details.

The U.S. Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a mission of sustaining the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The mission of the Forest Service's Northern Research Station is to improve people’s lives and help sustain the natural resources in the Northeast and Midwest through leading-edge science and effective information delivery.

The U.S. Forest Service manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live. For more information, visit


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Last modified: June 15, 2009