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Information to help you prepare for your visit to Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve!

Please carefully read the sections below, as they answer many common questions posed by first-time visitors and will help you prepare for a successful visit or stay. If you have questions that are not answered by this webpage, or by your supervisor, please reach out to operations associate Lydia Winkler (, 612-301-2622).

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General Operations and Hours

Cedar Creek is open year-round, although staffing and operations vary from season to season. If you have questions that are not answered by this webpage, or by your supervisor, please reach out to operations associate Lydia Winkler (, 612-301-2622).

Field Season (mid-April to October):

During the field season, Cedar Creek is humming with activity. Permanent staff (including operations associate, research coordinators, safety officers, education coordinator, and buildings and grounds team) are generally onsite Monday through Friday from ~8am to 4:30pm. Although researchers, interns and students live onsite over the weekends and through holidays, the staff goes home on Friday afternoons. Please plan to move in to housing, borrow bikes, request supplies or equipment, get gate keys/door codes, and ask your questions during business hours to help our staff balance personal life and work!

Off Season (November through mid-April):

During the winter and early spring, many of the permanent staff work flexible / hybrid schedules and split their time between the reserve, campus and their homes. Some housing units are shut for the winter, most internal roads are unplowed and inaccessible, and it is vital to make requests well in advance so that we can arrange to fulfill them. It is still possible to live and work onsite, you just need to plan ahead! Snowshoes may be available for loan; you will need to provide your own skis if you want to ski, and there is very limited vehicle access.

Code of Conduct and Reporting

Cedar Creek is committed to fostering research, education, and community engagement in a welcoming and inclusive environment. All people at Cedar Creek, including all researchers, students, employees, and visitors, are expected to treat each other in a respectful and professional manner. We are all responsible for holding our community to standards of conduct. In addition to following University policies, we ask all members of the Cedar Creek community to support and adhere to our norms of respectful and professional conduct, which are available in our Code of Conduct.

If you have concerns about misconduct, you have a variety of reporting options. You can report suspected or alleged misconduct to any or all of the following:

The University of Minnesota has a policy that protects people who report misconduct from retaliation. All U of M employees are required to report sexual misconduct to the Title IX office. Additional details on reporting, including options for both University and non-University reports, can be found here.

Getting to Cedar Creek

Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve is located in East Bethel, MN - about 40 minutes north of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. There is no public transportation between the Twin Cities (downtown or airport) and the reserve. Researchers, staff and students are responsible for their own transportation to, from and within the reserve. Reach out to your PI, lab group or cohort to discuss options if you do not have access to a car. 

The closest major airport is the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport (MSP). An Amtrak station is also located in St. Paul and is served by the Empire Builder route (from Seattle/Portland on the west end of the route to Chicago on the east end).

Cedar Creek's main campus is located at 2660 Fawn Lake Drive NE, East Bethel MN 55005. Google Map Link

Parking and transportation within the Reserve

Parking: there is no charge to park at Cedar Creek, and ample parking is available at the main campus area (2660 Fawn Lake Drive) for residents and day-use visitors. A map indicating parking lots is available here. Unless you are attending a class or program, please leave the parking spaces in front of the Lindeman Center available and instead park in one of the other indicated areas. If you will be parking anywhere other than the main campus area (e.g. internal roads, property perimeter, near experimental fields), please email Lydia Winkler ( to arrange for a parking pass.


Internal transportation: Cedar Creek encompasses ~9 square miles of land and water and ~28 miles of internal roads - some locations are walkable from the main campus area, but many are not! Residents can bring or borrow a bicycle for transit to many places within the reserve. However, some field sites (e.g. Field A and B, north unit) may require a vehicle. With the exception of Old East Bethel Blvd, the internal roads should be considered 'primitive' - they are unpaved, sand and dirt roads that are often only a truck's width across. They may have ruts or require 4-wheel drive to navigate, especially when muddy or snowy, and may have overhanging limbs or bushes than can scratch a car. Generally speaking, the reserve does not have vehicles available for rent or loan, so you should coordinate with your supervisor or PI to make sure you know how to get to and from any locations outside of the main campus area. If you will be parking anywhere other than the main campus area (e.g. internal roads, property perimeter, near experimental fields), please email Lydia Winkler ( to arrange for a parking pass.

LTER interns and field technicians - your transportation within the Reserve will be arranged via your supervisors in LTER vehicles, ATVs, or bikes.

Housing and Amenities

Housing is available at Cedar Creek for staff, researchers and other visitors with priority given to academic and research visits. Space is limited, particularly during the busy growing season (~May through August) so it is essential to request housing early to guarantee a spot!

Three types of lodging units are available at the reserve: double rooms (two twin beds per room, 3-5 rooms per lodge, shared bathrooms/kitchen/living area), dorms (bunkbeds in a large communal room, shared bathrooms) and tent pads (provide your own tent; access granted to communal kitchen and bathroom facilities). You are responsible for keeping your bedroom in a tidy and clean state. We provide weekly housekeeping in shared areas. We use information from the housing request form about career stage, lab group affiliation and personal preferences to assign spaces on a first come, first served basis. Rates vary by type of user, and are available here. Rent is due at the end of your stay for visits less than a month, and at the beginning of the month for visits longer than a month. You will receive an invoice, which can be paid by cash, check, or credit card.

Included in your housing unit:

  • refrigerator(s) and freezer(s)
  • pots and pans
  • plates, cups, bowls, utensils
  • twin bed, lamp, fan, closet or dresser
  • shower
  • access to free washer and coin-operated dryer (may be in your unit or may be in a nearby unit)

NOT included in your housing unit (you must provide):

  • bedding/linens (available for rent for a small fee - request when arranging housing)
  • food items
  • shower supplies
  • laundry supplies


Note: Cedar Creek is on well water. This water is safe to drink and cook with, but may occasionally have a sulfurous or 'eggy' smell. Occasionally, for example during a power outage, the pumps that distribute water to the housing units and lab buildings go offline. If you are experiencing issues with water in your housing unit, please let the Buildings and Grounds team know as soon as possible.

Checking into housing

Cedar Creek's staff generally are onsite Monday - Friday, 8am to 4:30pm. If at all possible, please plan to arrive during these hours to check into housing so that a staff member is available to assist you. If you must arrive in the evening or on the weekend, please make sure to connect with operations associate Lydia Winkler ( or 612-301-2622) in advance to make alternative arrangements.

Paperwork: By the day you move in or on your first weekday at Cedar Creek, you will need to complete a Cedar Creek Housing Agreement. You will receive this document via email, and it can be completed, signed and returned electronically in advance of your visit. If you are unable to complete the agreement before you arrive, we will provide you with a printed copy to complete in person. Included in the Housing Agreement is important information about your stay, which can you can also review here.

Access: Approximately a week before your scheduled arrival date, you will receive an email that includes your lodging unit and room assignment, a map indicating where you unit is, and keys or key codes to access the buildings you will be living and working in. Depending on the nature of your visit, you may also asked to visit the main office in the Lindeman Center to sign an orientation packet and be issued permits and gate keys. Please coordinate with Lydia Winkler ( or 612-301-2622) if you have questions about access or resources or would like to set up an appointment to discuss any of our policies.


Cedar Creek does not have a dining hall or cafeteria (although there is a soda machine in the Lawrence Lab main room!). Residents and visitors are responsible for providing their own food. The nearest grocery store is Coborn's in Isanti, located ~10 minutes driving north of the reserve. Additional grocery stores are available in Cambridge, St. Francis, Blaine and surrounding communities. During the summer, residents often arrange carpools to the grocery store to support those without vehicles.

There are a handful of cafes, breweries and restaurants nearby, although the selection is pretty slim. The only place within easy walking/biking distance is the Subway located inside the Cooper's Corner Sinclair gas station (2 miles from Cedar Creek headquarters). Nearby communities with more choices are Bethel, Isanti, Cambridge, St. Francis, Ham Lake and Blaine, all located a short drive away. 


Mail: Long-term (greater than 2 weeks) residents will assigned a mailbox in the Lawrence Lab. This mailbox is the place to look for your monthly rent invoices and incoming mail. Mail can be addressed to:

[Your Name]

Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve

2660 Fawn Lake Drive NE, East Bethel MN 55005

There is no outgoing mail pick-up - you can place stamped envelopes in the driveway mailbox on Fawn Lake Drive, but packages should be taken to the post office. The nearest post office is in Bethel, MN - directions can be found here. Mail received after a resident leaves Cedar Creek will not be forwarded. It is your responsibility to be sure the address you use for official documents is updated before you move out.


Cell access: the main campus area (including lodging units and lab buildings) as well as the experimental fields have fairly reliable cell phone access. There are pockets with limited or no reception, particularly in the northern half of the property.

Wifi and internet access: most, though not all, of the housing units have wifi access. If you have a UMN or other university/college email address, please connect to the eduroam network. Otherwise, connect to the U of M Guest network. Wifi and computers are also available in the Lawrence Lab. The general use computers should only be used for work or independent research purposes. Wifi is not available in the field unless your supervisor has made their own arrangements for a hotspot or other system.

Field Clothing

Researchers, interns and students are responsible for providing their own field clothing and gear.  During the summer months, weather is generally warm but can turn quickly - and cold temperatures are common (especially at night) at the start and end of the field season. We recommend that you bring layers to be prepared for any weather. Rain is a regular occurrence in many summers (often via thunderstorms), so good rain gear is a must! Don't forget to plan for warm weather as well, as we can see summer temperatures in the 90s and above.

Here is a list of recommended clothing to bring for standard field work:

  • Head protection: sun hat, warm hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Rain gear: rain jacket, rain pants (if desired)
  • Fleece or other mid-weight jacket (down jacket if you run cold or plan to work in the early or late season)
  • Long pants (we recommend light-colored hiking pants for temperature regulation and to more easily spot ticks
  • Shorts
  • Light long-sleeved shirts (button-down 'over shirts' can be nice for bug and sun protection in the summer)
  • T-shirts
  • Work gloves
  • Shoes
    • closed-toed shoes for working: we recommend hiking boots or trail runner type shoes
    • casual/comfortable shoes for your housing unit/main campus area
    • if you are doing aquatic research/work, you may want rubber boots, waders and/or water shoes
  • Socks (we recommend wool over cotton, but either will work)

Recommended Personal Gear

  • Outdoor protection:
    • Chapstick and Sunscreen
    • Insect repellent
    • Sunscreen
    • Personal cell phone
  • Field gear:
    • Small day backpack and/or lunch bag
    • Water bottle(s) and/or Thermos
    • Camera
    • Binoculars

If living onsite:

  • Toiletries:
    • Toothbrush
    • Toothpaste
    • Soap
    • Shampoo/Conditioner 
    • Other personal hygiene products
  • Sleeping:
    • Sleeping bag or sheets and blanket
    • Pillow
    • Bath towel and washcloth
    • Pajamas/lounge clothes
  • Other:
    • Recreation gear: tent, sleeping pad, water filter, swimsuit, etc. for off-reserve adventures
    • Reading material, music, art supplies, games
    • Medications with copies of any prescriptions
    • Casual comfy clothes (jeans, t-shirts, etc.)
    • Swimsuit
    • Head lamp

Community Life

We strive to make Cedar Creek a welcoming and inclusive community for all users. Researchers, students and interns are always welcome to attend our public programs, which range from scientific lectures to guided hikes, astronomy programs and book discussions. In the summer, the Cedar Creek Summer Fellows organize a suite of educational and social programs aimed primarily (though not exclusively) at undergraduate and post-bac researchers. These programs are open for attendance to the entire Cedar Creek research community though, and include lunchtime lectures, career panels, bonfires, arts events, skill-building workshops, and more! 

We also recognize that attendance at programs at Cedar Creek (or even the possibility of doing research) is contingent on transportation. If you are looking for a carpool or are willing to drive others to and from the reserve, grad students Maggie Anderson ( and Maria Park ( can help! They are organizing a ride-sharing list, and have funds to reimburse drivers. We don't want transportation to be any more of a barrier than it already is!


The weather at Cedar Creek varies dramatically both seasonally and within a single day. Minnesotans love to say "If you don't like the weather, wait ten minutes" and that is the case here at the reserve. Winter temperatures tend to be below freezing, with clear skies and occasional windy days - but it's also not unusual to have a mid-winter thaw, rainstorm, or unseasonably warm day. Similarly, summer at Cedar Creek tends to be warm and humid, with day time temps in the 70s and 80s from May to September. Field researchers should however be prepared during those times for extremes - daytime temps in the 90s or even over 100°F, drenching downpours, and (in May and September) the possibility of frost. It's helpful to have layers and a variety of clothing choices available during your visit. You can check the current conditions at the reserve, as well as the short-term forecast here.

graph showing monthly averages of high temp, low temp and precipitation near Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve

Flora and Fauna

Part of what makes Cedar Creek special is our diverse plant and animal communities! More than 800 species of plants have been documented onsite, as well as more than 2200 insect species, 230 bird species, 187 species of fungi, and 50 mammal species. We are additionally home to several rare or threatened reptiles, including Blanding's turtles and bullsnakes. Because North America's three major biomes come together at the reserve, our landscapes are varied and support a wide array of plant and animal life. 

Animals: The most commonly-seen mammals are white-tailed deer, which are in abundance at the reserve. Other medium and large mammals, including black bears, red and gray foxes, coyotes, wolves and fisher are present but rarely (if ever) seen. These animals typically avoid humans. Do not approach, provoke, corner or feed them. If you encounter wild animals, raise your arms, stand tall, and make loud noises. Then back away slowly, while watching the animal. It is best for wildlife to remain wild, rather than becoming accustomed to people, so we ask that everyone do their part in properly cleaning up and disposing of all food and trash when in the field.

Deer and wood ticks are both common throughout the property, particularly (though not exclusively) in the summer. We highly recommend educating yourself on tick identification and prevention, including wearing light-colored long pants and long-sleeve shirts, using insect repellant on your cloths, and checking yourself regularly. Keeping your skin covered will also help with sunburn, mosquitos, and horse flies!

During the summer season, a research herd of bison are onsite in an enclosure on the southeast side of the property. Special permission and training is required to enter the bison enclosure. Access will be granted only to individuals conducting research or accompanying Cedar Creek staff. If you need this access, please speak to associate director Caitlin Barale Potter ( and she will connect you with a trainer.

Plants: Poison ivy and poison sumac are both found at Cedar Creek, including right around the campus area. Please take precautions to avoid contact. We have a product in our first-aid kits and bathrooms (Technu) that can be used to wash your skin soon after exposure, reducing the chances of a reaction. If you are highly allergic to either of these species, please be extra cautious and bring whatever gear or materials you need to keep yourself safe.

Orientation Packet

Our orientation packet ( goes into great depth about policies, procedures, safety, opportunities, and more! It is updated annually and the most recent iteration is always available online. This packet is emailed out to all researchers, postdocs and graduate students at the beginning of the field season, and is additionally provided to new researchers when their projects are approved. In order to be issued your site permits, you must confirm that you have received and read the orientation packet. 

If you have suggestions of information that should be included in the orientation packet and is currently missing, please let Caitlin Barale Potter ( or Kally Worm ( know.

Site Safety

We take safety very seriously at Cedar Creek, and are proud of our track record in the lab and the field. We have two site safety officers, Kally Worm ( and Jim Krueger (, who can answer all your questions about safety! Much of our orientation packet is devoted to this topic.

Any work that requires the use of hazardous chemicals (including pesticide application) or a chemistry lab must be approved by Kally Worm. Please contact her at least one full business day in advance to discuss your needs and complete any required training or documentation. 

In line with University of Minnesota requirements and updated guidance from major funders like the National Science Foundation all active projects must have a Field Safety Plan on file. This requirement is regardless of funding source or institutional affiliation. In collaboration with the University of Minnesota's Health, Safety and Risk Management office, we have created a template with many Cedar Creek-specific sections pre-filled for your convenience. To speed up approval of your proposed project, make a copy of the template, complete it and submit along with your proposal. Hard copies and a laptop with the electronic copy preloaded are available in the Lindeman Center if that is easier.

New Graduate Students and Postdocs

By request, a team of graduate students at Cedar Creek have created a handbook specifically for new grad students and postdocs! This is a living document that covers topics specific to the grad student and postdoc experience at Cedar Creek, and is meant to serve as a resource and supplement to the Cedar Creek orientation packet and other information distributed by supervisors and PIs.